Day 5: Barbie Butt
I skipped day four to spend time with family and friends, but this is actually my second post for this morning. The first one I wrote and gave to my editor (wink, wink…my husband) and his response…”kind of a downer.” It felt a little like my favorite childhood song (my siblings will get this) 30,000 pound of Bananas. Harry Chapin wrote the song and couldn’t come up with an ending. He took it to his brothers who said, “Harry, it sucks”. So he went back to his “lonely writer’s garret” and wrote a new ending. I too went back to my lonely writer’s garret and started again.
What is the most important message that I want to get across? I keep asking myself this question over and over again. Is it a message about colorectal cancer symptoms? Is it that colorectal cancer is 100% preventable when detected early? I think the most important message (for today) is that it can happen to anyone and it happened to me.
When my cancer was finally detected, I had a 12-cm long tumor growing through the wall of my rectum and spreading into the surrounding lymph nodes. The size and type of my tumor determined the surgery that I would need. I had to have a full abdominal perineal resection or an APR for short. This means they removed everything from my rear end and opened my abdomen from my pubic bone to just above my belly button. My surgeon pulled the, now healthy, end of colon up and through the opening in my abdomen and created a cute little stoma. This stoma is covered daily by a colostomy bag for stool collection and it’s a bag that I will have for the rest of my life.
I often get questions like – can you have it reversed? I have to giggle at that innocent question. There is nothing to reverse. When I say nothing, I mean nothing. I don’t have any remaining rectum. Because the tumor was so low and invasive, they could not leave any anal muscle. This means – I have no anus or rectal stump. I have nothing. It is zipped shut! It’s a true Barbie Butt! Cute, but not functional.
I never questioned my surgeon and really never had an issue adjusting to life as a Barbie Butt. Sure there were complications, because they removed so much tissue from that side of my pelvic floor. I had to go to pain managment for almost two years because of the nerve damage from both surgery and radiation. But telling people you have a Barbie Butt, is always a great opener to a conversation about colorectal cancer.
I’m thinking there’s a Mattel tattoo is in my future!