In the hours and days following my husband’s cancer diagnosis I felt a range of emotions, as you might guess, I felt everything from terror, despair, depression, anger, avoidance, fear, sadness; there were also moments of laughter through the tears, which lead to confusion and anger and sadness all over again. It was a non-stop cycle of all of these emotions as we settled into the knowledge of what this diagnosis of colon cancer would mean for our family.
I guess it was sort of like the grieving process, you go through all the steps until you come to acceptance and then you move on and do what has to be done. During the colonoscopy, his doctor had taken samples of tissue to biopsy, she was certain it was cancer even before the pathology came back but I think in the back of my mind I was hoping that she was wrong and the pathology would come back that it was just a benign growth and he wouldn’t have to go down this path. When the pathology results came back the next afternoon confirming that it was in fact, adenocarcinoma, it was a punch to the gut all over again. A feeling I would become painfully used to over the next few months.
noun, plural adenocarcinomas, adenocarcinomata [ad-n-oh-kahr-suh-noh-muh-tuh] (Show IPA). Pathology.
a malignant tumor arising from secretory epithelium.
a malignant tumor of glandlike structure.
As we moved through the next couple of weeks with Christmas and New Year’s, he had labs drawn to determine his ‘cancer marker’ number or CEA.
A normal level of CEA is less than or equal to 3 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Most healthy people have levels below this amount. CEA levels will generally return to normal between one and four months after the cancer has been successfully removed.Mar 30, 2017
CEA: Purpose, Procedure, and Results – Healthline
We learned Sean’s CEA was 10, not super high, which was comforting on some level I suppose. If it were higher, it would likely have meant there was more than just the one tumor to worry about, but with it as low as this, it gave me hope that we had caught it early and it would be relatively easy to treat.
We were still waiting for his appointment with the surgeon who was to perform the surgery to remove ‘Pennywise’ as our family came to call the tumor…