Worried Wife-Please Help Me

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Starr12
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:32 am

Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Starr12 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:00 am

Good Morning and thank you to those of you who read this.

My husband is 34 and has always gone to his doctor for yearly physicals as well as to his gastro doctor to treat his GERD and hiatal hernia.

This December 2017 for the first time ever his blood work was off during his yearly routine physical. It showed that he had a lower hemoglobin level 10.9 and some other lower red blood cell work. His GP had him come back two more times from December to January to do more blood work. His liver enzymes a little high, but had since decreased (probably due to him decreasing drinking).

The GP suggested he book an appointment with a hematologist to get his iron/red blood cell count checked since the levels didn’t change much. He also suggested to reach out to his gastro doctor.

His Gastro doc gave him the OFBT and it came back that he had “microscopic blood in his stool.” His gastro originally had his endoscopy and colonoscopy scheduled for 2/28 but because of this find, he moved him up to 2/16.

My husband has zero symptoms (only the iron deficiency anemia, which my nurse friends say is on the milder end and this microscopic blood in his stool). Otherwise, his bms are normal, he has no pain, no cramping, nothing. He’s never seen blood in his stool. His stomach and issues with GERD continue pending what he eats. He also has zero family history of colon cancer and both of his parents have had several good colonoscopies.

Of course it doesn’t help my nerves by going on the internet and reading the correlation of men with iron deficiency anemia and potential diagnosis of Colon Cancer. Thus, I am becoming extremely worried.

My nurse friends say that it’s probably related to his stomach (the bleeding) and not his colon, but even if it is, it’s probably being caught early. I know they’re trying to help alleviate my nerves.

My question is, can iron deficiency anemia and microscopic blood be the only two symptoms one can have prior to being diagnosed with colon cancer?

My husband’s gastro was quick during the follow-up regarding the FOBT and suggested for him to keep his appointment with the hematologist. I am mad because I wish I went with him that day because I would’ve asked more questions. He also did his blood tests and tested him for celiac and he came back “boardeline”, but suggested for him to not change any of his diet until after his procedures.

I just wish his appointments were this week instead of next as the waiting is hard.

My nurse friend also said that he could have iron deficiency anemia and it not be related to the microscopic bleeding? Also, my husband has gained a good 10-15 pounds over the last several years. He’s 6’4 and 250lbs so no sign of weight loss, which I know can be a symptom of CC, but not always.

Any words of advice and support would alleviate my mind right now.

Again, thank you so much for listening. I am really hoping this is nothing more than upper GI issues, but it’s still scary nonetheless and I am sorry if I seem over paranoid. I know he’s young but being young doesn’t guarantee anything.

Best,

Tricia

mpbser
Posts: 478
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:52 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby mpbser » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:36 pm

Tricia,

My husband didn't figure out that he had anemia until his hemoglobin was a life-threatening 6. It took him being in congestive heart failure and unable to breathe to seek medical attention. We found out that the anemia was due to a tumor's perforation of his large intestinal lining. He had been experiencing edema from the anemia for a long while but he had blown off the edema as a consequence of being on his feet all day for work. The edema he was experiencing by the time of diagnosis was due to both anemia and congestive heart failure. In short, he had a slow, unnoticeable bleed for a very long time. I think that you are very very lucky to have discovered this when you have, before it had a chance to get to the stage I just described my husband experiencing.

He has been through a lot, but we went from thinking he had a death sentence to now being very confident he will be "cured" and live a long life. I guess what I am trying to say is that there is lots of hope to be found. You will also find that there is so much support here on this forum. Welcome!
Wife 4/17 Dx age 45
5/17 - Lap left hemi
Adenocarcinoma
5 x 4 x 1 cm
low grade
T3 N2b M1a
Stage IV A
lymph nodes: 9 of 54
8/17 Sub-total colectomy
2nd tumor 5.5 cm T1 N0
CEA: 1.4, 2.1, 1.5, 1.9, 1.9, 2.1, 2.1, 2.4, 1.7, 2.0
MSS/MSI-L
Lynch no; KRAS wild
Immunohistochemsistry: Normal MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2
Tumor DNA variants: MTOR, APC, TP53
Liver left hepatectomy seg 4 1/31/18
5/18 NED

Starr12
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:32 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Starr12 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:26 pm

mpbser wrote:Tricia,

My husband didn't figure out that he had anemia until his hemoglobin was a life-threatening 6. It took him being in congestive heart failure and unable to breathe to seek medical attention. We found out that the anemia was due to a tumor's perforation of his large intestinal lining. He had been experiencing edema from the anemia for a long while but he had blown off the edema as a consequence of being on his feet all day for work. The edema he was experiencing by the time of diagnosis was due to both anemia and congestive heart failure. In short, he had a slow, unnoticeable bleed for a very long time. I think that you are very very lucky to have discovered this when you have, before it had a chance to get to the stage I just described my husband experiencing.

He has been through a lot, but we went from thinking he had a death sentence to now being very confident he will be "cured" and live a long life. I guess what I am trying to say is that there is lots of hope to be found. You will also find that there is so much support here on this forum. Welcome!


Thank you for sharing your husband’s unfortunate experience with finding about his anemia. Do you know how long he probably was bleeding for? I know that my husband’s slow bleeding is within this past year and that his doctor said “anemic like conditions”. I am hoping that the scopes will give us validation as to what’s causing the bleed. My only hope is that whatever is going, we caught it early enough

Lee
Posts: 5724
Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Lee » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:54 pm

Starr12 wrote:My question is, can iron deficiency anemia and microscopic blood be the only two symptoms one can have prior to being diagnosed with colon cancer?
Tricia


HI and welcome, sorry for the reason you are here.

It can be, butt it can also be caused by many other things. Cancer is just ONE possibility. Prior to my diagnoses, I was not anemia and no blood was found in my stools.

Please avoid Dr. Google, you can diagnoses yourself with anything with Dr. Google. Keep in mind a lot of information on the internet is either outdated or flat out wrong. Hang around here until he get scoped especially if you need to vent. We have all walked in your shoes and get what your are going through.

Does colon cancer run in his family?

Please know, IF he is diagnosed with colon cancer, there has been many advancements in the past decade, and new treatment options coming around the corner. It is not the death sentence it once used to be. I'm a (almost) 14 yr survivor and there are many of us out there.

It's good he is getting scoped, butt during the mean time, try not to worry.

Good luck,

Lee
rectal cancer - April 2004
46 yrs old at diagnoses
stage III C - 6/13 lymph positive
radiation - 6 weeks
surgery - August 2004/hernia repair 2014
permanent colostomy
chemo - FOLFOX
NED - 10 years and counting!

Starr12
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:32 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Starr12 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 3:24 pm

Lee wrote:
Starr12 wrote:My question is, can iron deficiency anemia and microscopic blood be the only two symptoms one can have prior to being diagnosed with colon cancer?
Tricia


HI and welcome, sorry for the reason you are here.

It can be, butt it can also be caused by many other things. Cancer is just ONE possibility. Prior to my diagnoses, I was not anemia and no blood was found in my stools.

Please avoid Dr. Google, you can diagnoses yourself with anything with Dr. Google. Keep in mind a lot of information on the internet is either outdated or flat out wrong. Hang around here until he get scoped especially if you need to vent. We have all walked in your shoes and get what your are going through.

Does colon cancer run in his family?

Please know, IF he is diagnosed with colon cancer, there has been many advancements in the past decade, and new treatment options coming around the corner. It is not the death sentence it once used to be. I'm a (almost) 14 yr survivor and there are many of us out there.

It's good he is getting scoped, butt during the mean time, try not to worry.

Good luck,

Lee



Thank you Lee for your response and for stating the truth (stay off the internet). My husband has no family history of colon cancer. His parents do have regular colonoscopies and no problems there. However, his mother does have low iron and IBS as well as a hiatal hernia. His brother has IBS as well. His maternal grandfather had polyps removed due to diverticulitis when he was in his 60s I believe.

I am hoping that because the symptoms are new, within the past year based off of his yearly bloodwork, he is getting it caught early enough (hoping). No other symptoms aside from what showed on his bloodwork and fecal test. He does feel a little tired but not exhausted. So trying to stay positive. I am a worrier, but finding this forum has helped me tremendously this weekend. Reading the stories of survivors such as yourself is inspiring and a reminder that regardless of ones age, to never underestimate your body and warnings and to always get checked. I turn 35 in March and I plan on getting everything checked and pushing for early mammogram because I have high family risk for breast cancer. I will also start asking for OFBT as well because hopefully early detection is key. Thank you for reading ❤️

CAGirl
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:55 pm

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby CAGirl » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:40 pm

The waiting for appointments and test results is always hard. Try not to worry prematurely. It is good that he's been tested yearly and that the low hemoglobin level is not too low. Mine was at 7 when I found out I had anemia in November 2016. That was my only symptom, and when I was diagnosed with CRC in February 2017 after my colonoscopy, I had a gut feeling I'd had the slow internal bleed for a while. I remembered that my discovery of turnips and radishes as the most delicious thing ever had been a long time before that -- and that, only in hindsight, it was Pica, a sign of anemia. Guess I'm trying to say -- as already mentioned -- if it does turn out to be cancer, there is a good chance it is not too advanced. (I hadn't been tested for anemia in years. Mine was severe once I was tested.)
Are his stools at all "black and tarry"? Also in retrospect -- and compared to how they are since surgery -- mine were. That's a sign of internal bleeding, as well. Mine were a lot darker (not black, per se, but VERY dark) and smooth ("tarry").
Good luck. Your waiting will be over SOON. We are all keeping fingers crossed that your follow-up post will be good news and we won't hear from you again!
Dx 2/2017, age 45, 2 kids: 6 yrs & 3 yrs
History of Crohn's disease - dx in 1997; in remission, thus no colonoscopy in over 10 years
Anemia dx 11/16: GI doc assured me "the likelihood of colon cancer" was "very low".
Stage 3C - T3N2b
8/64 lymph nodes; clear margins surgery 3/17
12 cycles of Folfox 4/17-9/17
3-month CT scan midway through chemo, no changes
2-3-month CT scan post chemo 11/17 slightly larger lung nodule (incr. from 7mm to 8 or 9mm)
follow-up CT scan 3/18 - NED!

Starr12
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:32 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Starr12 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:29 pm

CAGirl wrote:The waiting for appointments and test results is always hard. Try not to worry prematurely. It is good that he's been tested yearly and that the low hemoglobin level is not too low. Mine was at 7 when I found out I had anemia in November 2016. That was my only symptom, and when I was diagnosed with CRC in February 2017 after my colonoscopy, I had a gut feeling I'd had the slow internal bleed for a while. I remembered that my discovery of turnips and radishes as the most delicious thing ever had been a long time before that -- and that, only in hindsight, it was Pica, a sign of anemia. Guess I'm trying to say -- as already mentioned -- if it does turn out to be cancer, there is a good chance it is not too advanced. (I hadn't been tested for anemia in years. Mine was severe once I was tested.)
Are his stools at all "black and tarry"? Also in retrospect -- and compared to how they are since surgery -- mine were. That's a sign of internal bleeding, as well. Mine were a lot darker (not black, per se, but VERY dark) and smooth ("tarry").
Good luck. Your waiting will be over SOON. We are all keeping fingers crossed that your follow-up post will be good news and we won't hear from you again!


Thank you for your reassurance. I am hoping that if this is anything , it’s being caught early enough. His stools are of normal color and consistency. He has never seen blood in his stool and goes to the bathroom regularly 1-2 times daily. I don’t know if that matters with a CRC diagnosis.
He’s also gained weight over the past several years. Again, not sure if weight can is NOT a sign of CRC. I am going to expect the best and prepare for the worst. I will keep you posted on anything. I would assume that if his doctors thoughts his anemia was serious they would’ve sent him to the ER or urgent care ASAP.

mpbser
Posts: 478
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:52 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby mpbser » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:41 pm

"Do you know how long he probably was bleeding for?"

I would estimate at least a year, if not two, based on the edema which began a couple of years before he was diagnosed.
Wife 4/17 Dx age 45
5/17 - Lap left hemi
Adenocarcinoma
5 x 4 x 1 cm
low grade
T3 N2b M1a
Stage IV A
lymph nodes: 9 of 54
8/17 Sub-total colectomy
2nd tumor 5.5 cm T1 N0
CEA: 1.4, 2.1, 1.5, 1.9, 1.9, 2.1, 2.1, 2.4, 1.7, 2.0
MSS/MSI-L
Lynch no; KRAS wild
Immunohistochemsistry: Normal MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2
Tumor DNA variants: MTOR, APC, TP53
Liver left hepatectomy seg 4 1/31/18
5/18 NED

User avatar
O Stoma Mia
Posts: 1450
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:29 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby O Stoma Mia » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:11 pm

Starr12 wrote:..Any words of advice and support would alleviate my mind right now. ..

Just a couple of things to mention here.

For the colonoscopy/endoscopy procedures next week it is very important to follow the prep procedures diligently so that the doctor can see what is going on. Here are some colonoscopy prep tips published recently hy a ColonClub member:

Colonoscopy Prep Tips
https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/blog/colonoscopy-prep-tips/

The problem might be an ulcer in the stomach or duodenum. The endoscopy procedure should be able to clarify this. Also, there is a simple breathalyzer test for helicobacter Pylori presence. Ulcers, if present, are often associated with h. Pylori infestations. There is a standard regimen for treating h. Pylori infestations, if present.You could ask the doctor about this.

You can use a Body Mass Index calculator to calculate BMI. High BMI is associated with a variety of health issues. Efforts should be made to keep BMI within normal range.

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
https://www.livestrong.com/article/36520-calculate-accurate-bmi-large-frame/
Last edited by O Stoma Mia on Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

Lee
Posts: 5724
Joined: Sun Apr 16, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Lee » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:54 pm

Starr12 wrote: . . . He’s also gained weight over the past several years. Again, not sure if weight can is NOT a sign of CRC. . .


Weight gain is a good sign that it is not cancer. Weight loss is usually associated with colon cancer. I had weight loss prior to my diagnoses. Know that colon cancer is one of the slower growing cancers, especially in the beginning.

Lee
rectal cancer - April 2004
46 yrs old at diagnoses
stage III C - 6/13 lymph positive
radiation - 6 weeks
surgery - August 2004/hernia repair 2014
permanent colostomy
chemo - FOLFOX
NED - 10 years and counting!

User avatar
LPL
Posts: 411
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:49 am
Location: Europe

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby LPL » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:40 pm

Lee wrote:
Weight gain is a good sign that it is not cancer. Weight loss is usually associated with colon cancer. I had weight loss prior to my diagnoses. Know that colon cancer is one of the slower growing cancers, especially in the beginning.

Hi Lee, hubby and I have said to each other: Hm.. wonder if our GP would have reacted/investigated if hubby had told him that he lost 2 kilo in a month. That was the only(!) sign he had before he got totally blocked.
Every 2 years he had done a screen test that came recommended in the post. Every time it was good news... apart from that small weight loss, he had NO signs until totally blocked and emergency colostomy and .. stage IV.
Now we recommend colonoscopy to all our friends.

Good Luck to you Starr12 !
Keeping my fingers crossed for good news for your DH !
DH @ 65 DX 4/11/16 CC recto-sigmoid junction
Adenocarcenoma pt 35x15x9mm G3(biopsi) G1(surgical)
Mets 3 Liver resectable
T4aN1bM1a Stage IVa 2/9 LN
MSS, KRAS-mut G13D
CEA & CA19-9: 5/18 2.5 78 8/17 1.4 48 2/14/17 1.8 29
4 Folfox 6/15-7/30 (b4 liver surgery) 8 after
CT: 8/8 no change 3/27/17 NED for now :D
:!: Steroid induced hyperglycemia dx after 3chemo .. hospitalized, insulin -> Metformin
Surgeries (open):
3/18 Emergency colostomy 5/23 Primary+gallbl+colostomy reversal (+port) 9/01 Liver mets

Caat55
Posts: 539
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Caat55 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:09 pm

Did the doctor suggest anything for his anemia? I was very anemic. The gastroenterologist recommended a certain type of iron supplement which was easier to digest, it made me sick. I tried a vegetable based iron supplement, it was better but also upset my stomach. Finally just went to my old standby, Frosted Mini Wheats. They are easy to munch on during the day and about 20 of them have 90% of iron needed in a day, plus the fiber helped. It took a while but my iron levels crept up to the normal range.

Susan
55 y.o. Female
Dx 9/26/17 RC Stage 3
Completed 33 rad. tx, xeolda 12/8/17
MRI and PET 1/18 sign. regression
Surgery 1/31/18 Ileostomy, clean margins, no lymph node involved
Port 3/1/2018
Oxaliplatin and Xeloda start 3/22/18
Last Oxaliplatin 7/5/18, 5 rounds
CT NED 9/2018

Starr12
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:32 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Starr12 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:02 am

Caat55 wrote:Did the doctor suggest anything for his anemia? I was very anemic.
Susan


Hi Susan,

Thank you for your response. How low was your iron at diagnosis?

The only thing that was suggested is to go and see a hematologist. That appointment is next week as well.
His iron levels slightly improved in some areas but also slightly decreased over the course of the month. I had called the gastro office today to talk to the nurse and he did test positive on all of the fecal slides used to detect the microscopic blood.

I also looked at his dec 2016 physical blood results and compared them to dec 2017. I don’t understand how someone can go from having perfect bloodwork to having iron deficiency anemia. I am extremely worried that for all we know, he’s had a tumor for years and now it’s showing it’s head. I am so worried despite the nurse today trying to tell me things will be okay. I wish his GP would’ve suggested him seeking out his gastro in December after his physical instead of having to wait a month and then now almost another month to get scoped.

User avatar
O Stoma Mia
Posts: 1450
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013 6:29 am

FOBT test preparation

Postby O Stoma Mia » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:59 am

Starr12 wrote:... he did test positive on all of the fecal slides used to detect the microscopic blood....

This could happen if he did not follow the FOBT instructions correctly this time around. There are many restrictions to follow before scheduling an FOBT test, e.g.:

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/fecal-occult-blood-test

Starr12
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:32 am

Re: Worried Wife-Please Help Me

Postby Starr12 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:54 am

Thank you to all of you who’ve been super helpful.
So looking at his most recent bloodwork, his hemoglobin went from 10.9 to 10.8 but his hematocrit went up from 35.7 to 36. However, his ferritin level is a low 8.

Also, he had elevated liver enzymes that have since went down over the past month. His AST is in normal range but his ALT is still slightly elevated. My husband drinks but has cut back on drinking so wondering if this decrease is due to that.

I spoke to some medical friends who also stated it can take a year for iron deficiency anemia to evolve. I can’t wait until he goes in next week. I just want them to find the source of the bleeding. Even if it is something serious, I feel like we will be able to handle it. I know I have no other choice but to remain calm and strong.

I will update you all as to how his hematologist appointment goes next week as well as how he does with his endoscopy and colonoscopy.

Thanks again,

Tricia


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