The Major Types of Rectal Cancer Surgeries | For Stage 1 – Early Stage 4 Patients

Hello!  Last week I mentioned that this week’s video would be about my surgery, but I thought before I get into the details of the slicing and dicing of my surgery for rectal cancer that I should maybe describe what the surgery actually was a little bit more. Then you’ll have a better idea of what the surgery entails before I start going into the details of what it was like to be a patient going through this surgery. If you don’t remember me mentioning that, well you must be new here. Welcome to Life as a Cancer Survivor. I created this channel to help those that have been diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer better understand what they might expect as they’re going through treatment and even after treatment, plus, to help promote awareness of this crappy disease. My name is Jelena, and in May of 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer. If you are new here, please make sure you’ve hit the subscribe button over here, or in the description below there’s also the link to subscribe so then you’ll never miss a new video. And now, on to all of the different surgeries for rectal cancer.

Early Stage Rectal Cancer Surgery

If the cancer is found at an early stage there are 2 options for surgery, neither of which require any incisions The first one is a polypectomy. This one is done during your routine colonoscopy. If the doctor finds a polyp during your preventative colonoscopy they will just take it out right then and you don’t have to go back for a separate surgery. However in the United States, as soon as that polyp is removed during the procedure it changes from just a preventative screening to a surgery, which means you could end up with a surprise bill in addition to the surprise that cancer was found in your colon. This can be especially hard on patients that are on Medicare that are already on a fixed income.

This is why advocates like myself have been working with the organization Fight Colorectal Cancer to close this federal loophole so that the procedure is covered 100%, even if a polyp is removed. The bill passed the House on December 12, 2019 and is now waiting for the Senate to pass it. It has a bi-partisan group of over 330 co-sponsors in the House, which means that the bill is “veto-proof” once it passes the Senate because there’s enough support to override a presidential veto. The bill currently has 60 Senators as co-sponsors, so we have the support, we just need that final push to bring it to a vote. If you would like to help get this passed, please contact your Senators and urge them to pass this. Here is the link that will take you directly to Fight Colorectal Cancer’s page and it has a short form, for you to fill out, and it even has a prewritten message to send directly to your Senators. They even take the legwork out of finding the contact information ’cause as soon as you fill in your address they will know who your two Senators are to send this message to.  If you do send a message let me know in the comments below, we need all of the help that we can get.

Now to learn about the second type of surgery that can be done to remove early-stage rectal cancers, which, this one can also be done during a colonoscopy but some of the tissue from the rectal wall is removed also because the polyp has grown a little bit into the tissue. Just like the polypectomy, as soon as the local excision happens during your colonoscopy it changes the procedure from a preventative screening to a surgery, so you’re billed for a surgery. Both the polypectomy and local incision are done as outpatient procedures and require no hospital stay as long as everything goes according to plan.The digestive system from the appendix to the anus

Rectal Cancer Surgeries for later-stage patients

If the tumor is too large or it has grown too deep into the rectum wall, then there are 2 different options that are available depending on the location of the tumor. My tumor ended up being high enough in the rectum that I received a Lower Anterior Resection.  Let me show you a picture of the colon and rectum again so that you’ve got a better idea of what I’m talking about here. In a Lower Anterior Resection, they cut out the part of the rectum that the cancer was in, and in my case, they also removed some of my colon. They then reconnect the remaining colon and rectum, which is called a resection. This surgery typically takes around 4 hours. This is done through either an open surgery or a minimally invasive surgery, also known as laparoscopically. In an open surgery, they cut a long incision down your abdomen to open you up for surgery.

For laparoscopic surgery, several small incisions are made in the abdomen and they call those incisions, ports. So through those incisions, these tube-like shaped things called

trocar picture
Trocar – By Magnus1313 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

trocars are inserted into those incisions. Through the trocars, a small camera and specialized instruments are inserted into the abdomen,  and your abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide so that the surgeon has a better view and has more room to maneuver during the surgery. Even if your surgery is done laparoscopically you still may need an incision down your abdomen to remove those parts of the colon and rectum that have been cut out. The incisions are then closed with sutures or staples.

To allow the resected site a chance to heal before stool starts passing through there again, many patients also receive a temporary ileostomy. The length of time that you keep that temporary ileostomy is really up to your surgeon.  Some like to reverse it after just a couple of weeks, others like mine wanted to wait until I was finished with my IV chemo before reversing it, which means that I had mine for around 7 months. Others that are on chemo for life may choose to keep their temporary ileostomy forever because taking a break from chemo means they’re taking a chance that their cancer is going to grow and/or spread.

The other type of surgery is called an Abdominal Perineal Resection, or APR. This surgery is done for patients where the tumor is so low in their rectum that the sphincter muscles can’t be preserved. In this surgery, the lower part of your colon, all of your rectum, and your anus are all removed. This is surgery can also be done either via an open surgery or laparoscopically. Even if the surgery is done laparoscopically, they still make an incision in your perineal area which is the area from your anus over to your genitals. And that’s the site where they remove the colon, rectum, and anus. Because your anus has been removed, that hole plus the perineal incision site are all closed up, giving you what many patients call a “Barbie butt.”

Patients that undergo an APR end up with a permanent colostomy because all of those end parts that you need to be able to poop normally have been removed. If you need a reminder on what a colostomy or an ileostomy are, I’ve got a video that describes what the different ostomies are. Just click on the link up here and that’ll take you over to refresh your memory on those.

Because the LAR and APR surgeries are much more involved surgeries, they typically require a 4-7 day hospital stay if there are no major complications.  And that’s your summary on the different surgeries for Stage 1 through early Stage 4 Rectal Cancers. Next week I will be talking about my experience and the caretaker perspective on the day before and day of surgery. If you happen to have missed my treatment plan video, that’s right over here, you can click on that and it’ll take you right to it. Thanks so much for watching.

*This video was originally published on February 12, 2020

My Story: What It’s Like Having Lower Anterior Resection Surgery

Today’s video is all about my Lower Anterior Resection, also known as LAR surgery which was step two in my treatment plan. It’s one of the most common surgeries that Rectal Cancer patients undergo as part of their treatment myself included. My name is Jelena, and in May of 2016 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer. I created this channel to give people like yourself insight on what life is like once you hear those words, “You have cancer.” I also want you to know that you are not alone in your diagnosis and a friend is just a click away. Speaking of click, make sure you’ve clicked on that subscribe button over here so that you never miss any of my new videos. If you’d rather wait till the end of the video, scroll all the way down into the description, and in the description is the link to get you subscribed as well.

Leading up to my surgery I had to stop taking certain medications. Someof the general ones that you have to stop taking include like aspirin and ibuprofen. Then the day before surgery I had two different antibiotics that I had to take to decrease my chances of getting an infection. Then of course since my colon was being operated on I had to do another colon prep, yay. I wasn’t allowed to eat it all that day before surgery and then my colonoscopy prep just was take four stool softener pills and then that 64-ounce jug of Gatorade and the 14 day supply of Miralax mixed together and drink all that up.

That night I changed the sheets on our bed because according to the surgery instructions you’re supposed to sleep on clean sheets. Then for my shower, I had to use that special soap that they gave me at my pre-surgical appointment and scrub everything for a really long time especially my abdomen and then clean out the belly button very thoroughly. Then once I got out of the shower: no lotion, no deodorant, no perfume, or anything but after taking a shower with that special body wash you’re just so dry and flaky and it’s hard to not put on any lotion. And then I had put on a clean pair of underwear and pajamas.

I was pretty nervous about going in for surgery and waking up with an ileostomy so I didn’t sleep well all that night, but it didn’t really matter too much because since my surgery was first thing in the morning at 7:30 a.m. I had to check-in at 5:30 a.m. And I couldn’t just wake up and go I had to wake up and I had to take that shower again with a special body wash and scrub everything super thoroughly, and then put on another fresh pair of underwear a new pair of clean clothes and then drive the 20 minutes to the hospital.

The one good thing though about getting to the hospital that early is there are plenty of parking spots. My husband and my mom came with me to the hospital and my dad stayed at home with our five-year-old daughter because she didn’t have school that day. Once we checked in at the main desk at the hospital we waited for a few minutes in a waiting area and then were called over to the admission desk. At that admission desk they made sure all of my contact information was right, that they had the right insurance info, that I had my advance directives saved, and then gave me some paperwork to take up to surgery, and gave me my hospital bracelet, and of course verified about 20 million times who I was and what my date of birth was.

I was then sent up to the surgical waiting area which was on another floor in the hospital and gave them my paperwork and checked in at that desk. Ladies, when you check-in, make sure you have to pee because you’re gonna have to take a pregnancy test. We also gave them my husband’s cell phone number in case of an emergency.

Around 6:30 a.m., about an hour before my surgery was scheduled, I got called back to a pre-op room. They were nice enough to let me bring both my mom and John with me to keep me entertained in that pre-op room. As soon as I got back there they gave me a hospital gown and booties to change into and then they also gave me a hat to put in the pocket of my hospital gown to put on later. Once I was changed then that’s when the warm blankets come out. They’re not very soft, but them being super warm makes up for it.

Once I was changed, a nurse came in and took my vitals, asked when I had last eaten or drank anything, and made sure that I had completed the colon prep. Then by around 7:00 a.m. a half-hour before surgery, my IV was placed and they hooked me up to just a hydration drip, which I was super excited about because I was so thirsty having not been able to drink anything since midnight. I also had compression devices put on my calves to help prevent blood clots both during surgery and then for the time after surgery when I still was in bed most of the time.

Then the surgeon came in just to say “hi,” see if we had any last-minute questions, then he left to go get ready for my surgery. Then the anesthesiologist came in and had me sign a consent form, and then gave me a little something to help me relax,before he knocked me out. You can tell from this picture how well it relaxed me because I could barely keep my eyes open already from that. I don’t even remember putting that hat on, because after surgery I asked John why they had me put the hat in my pocket if I never wore it.

John and my mom had to head back to the waiting room while I was wheeled off for surgery. Since I was knocked out for surgery I’ve invited my husband John to come in and talk to us about what actually happened while I was asleep so here he is.


John: Hey everyone.

Jelena: Welcome!

John: Thank you.

Jelena: So, what happened when I was taken away for surgery?

John: Yeah, after you’re taken away for surgery there was no expectation that us waiting for you stay at the hospital because it is such a long surgery.  They had my cell phone number in case you needed to get a hold with us for any kind of emergency reasons but we started off, your mom and I, went out to breakfast which managed to successfully kill about an hour. After that, we ended up coming back to the hospital and waiting in the surgery area so if that’s what you’re gonna do I would recommend coming with enough stuff to keep yourself busy for about four hours at least four hours. In our case, I think your mom brought some books to read, I had you know games to play on my phone, and I think even at one point I just kind of laid down on one of the couches in the waiting area and decided to take a nap since we had been up since 4:15 in the morning.

Jelena: Okay I guess that’s understandable. So then did you get any updates while I was in surgery?

John: Yeah, we had one update in the middle of the process and the way that it works in our hospital is one of the nurses from the surgery room would call down to the reception desk in the surgery waiting area, and then the receptionist at the surgery waiting area would call you over to come talk to the nurse directly. And in this case you know the update that they gave us that was that everything was going well, everything was going smoothly and according to plan however, it was going to be probably an hour to an hour and a half longer than they had originally estimated because they needed to take some time to free up some extra colon from your abdominal wall in order to actually make the resection.

Jelena: Okay. So then after the surgery was over and you got an update from the surgeon were you able to see me right away?

John: We weren’t able to see you right away. So he came down and he talked to your mom and I in the waiting room and he gave us the update that everything had gone according to plan. There were no complications so there was nothing special that we needed to do outside of what we had discussed before going into surgery. However, we weren’t able to see you right away because at the time you were in the post-anesthesia care unit and they were bringing you back out from being under the anesthesia and eventually you know we stayed in the surgery waiting area for a little while and then eventually a nurse from the post-anesthesia care unit called down to the surgery waiting desk and I spoke to her on the phone. And at that point she gave us the update that you were still in the process of kind of waking up after being under, you were probably gonna be there for another thirty minutes to an hour and at that time she actually gave us the room number that you were gonna be staying in for the recovery portion of your stay at the hospital. So after that phone call, your mom and I left the surgery waiting area, and then we went up to the room that you would actually be staying in.

Jelena: Oh okay, nice. So was that a little more comfortable than the waiting area?

John: Um, I don’t know if it was necessarily more comfortable it’s still hospital furniture, but it was at least a little more private.

Jelena: Okay. So then what happened once you got to the room? 

John: Once we got to the room we were just sitting in there by ourselves. Occasionally one of the nurses would come in and out and they would kind of introduce themselves. So you were staying on a floor that specializes in post-surgical care, so the nurses that were working with you for that piece like that was kind of what they specialized in was people who had just come out of surgery. So as they came in and they talked to us before you were actually in the room they would kind of introduce themselves and say who they were like if they were your main nurse for the time or the CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). I think at one point the social worker who was in charge of like the in-hospital ostomy nurse visits and who would also be coordinating the um, the homecare afterwards came in and introduced herself to me and your mom.  And eventually, they came up with you. So they wheeled you in in the hospital bed into the room at this point we hadn’t we consciously made the decision not to bring any of your stuff up yet because we didn’t know how easy it was to get somebody in and out of the hospital room, and we just didn’t want it to be in the way. So once they brought you in I mean you were really out of it still. It was, you looked like you were just kind of going in and out of sleep, and you kind of were that way for the next two hours. So during that period of time, the nurses actually started the you know the regimens of care that they were gonna do for you after surgery and you know we continued to sort of you know they would come in and they would tell us what they were doing so we got an idea of what they were doing for you and what the plan was, but also during that time since you were fading in and out of consciousness and kind of going in and out of sleep that’s when we decided that we would go down to the car and bring up all the bags that you had packed for your stay. 

Jelena: Okay. Well, thanks for filling me out on what happened while I was unconscious. 

John: Yeah, anytime. 

Jelena: I’m sure I’ll have you back for a future video. 

John: Sounds great.

Jelena: Alright, thanks. Bye-bye.


Once I was up there at some point I opened my eyes and saw that I was in a different room, my mom and John were in there so I wanted to try and stay awake but I was still just too groggy and I could not keep my eyes open. I was a little nauseous, so they did give me a cold towel to wear on my head. I looked basically like death as you can see from this picture, which was pretty shocking to my mom.

Once I was awake enough to talk I asked if my dad could bring Maelle to the hospital to see me. I really wanted to see her, give her a hug, and show her that mommy made it through surgery okay. Once she showed up though, I still could barely stay awake and I couldn’t even open my eyes and smile to take a picture with her at 4:30 that afternoon.

Eventually, around 7:30 p.m. which was 12 hours after my surgery started, I was finally awake enough that I wanted to survey the damage that was done and see everything that was hooked up to me. John had to help me with pulling my blanket up so that I could lift my hospital gown up and not flash everybody when I was looking at my abdomen. I was so sore though that the only way that I could sit up was by using the remote on the hospital bed to raise me up as high as it would go.

Here’s the first picture of my tummy after surgery and don’t worry it’s all bandaged up all you can see is just a little bit of my stoma peeking through the ostomy bag. Up at the top there, the little square with a green probe on it is one of the many stickies I had on me to monitor my heart rate. I of course was still hooked up to an IV, I was hooked up to oxygen, a catheter was put in me during surgery and that was still connected to me, I still had those sleeves on my calves compressing squeezing and letting go of them so I didn’t get any blood clots, and I had a little oxygen monitor on my finger. 

Attached to the IV were liquids to keep me hydrated because I was NPO which means “nothing by the mouth”. I know the NPO doesn’t match up with “nothing by the mouth” but it’s something Latin. I was allowed to have ice chips so sucking on that really helped to soothe my throat because it was really dry for some reason after surgery. Also hooked up to my IV was a patient-controlled analgesia pump also known as PCA.  Mine had morphine in it and I was given a button that I could push whenever I wanted a dose administered. That button was hooked up to a timer so I could only get a dose every 15 minutes so after I pressed the button the timer would start and when the 15 minutes was up a light would turn on letting me know that I could hit the button again. If you hit the button when the light was off it just wouldn’t do anything. For the first day or so I was hitting that button every time that the light was going on.

Then a little before 8 p.m. a nurse came in to take the gauze off of my incision.  Now is when you may want to look away because it’ll get a little gross and I’ll tell you when it’s okay to look again. So there was a lot of blood on the dressing but the wound itself wasn’t bleeding anymore so she didn’t put a new dressing on it. Okay, it’s safe to look again. After removing the dressing the nurse wanted me to sit up in the chair in the room. The only way that I could get up was by putting the bed as upright as I could at the head, rolling from my back over to my side which was really painful, and then using my arm to push my torso away from the back at the bed so I was sitting up and somehow turning my body so my legs were hanging off the bed actually. I think the nurses had to grab my legs and rotate me because I couldn’t do it. After all of that, I could manage only about 30 seconds sitting upright because I was so out of breath and it hurt so much I had to lay back down. So then they had to help me get my legs back up ’cause I couldn’t even lift my legs up and then I laid back down and put that bed back.

That was so mentally crushing because leading up to my surgery I had been running like three to four times a week three or four miles at a time so to go from that to not even being able to sit up for 30 seconds without feeling like I was gonna die basically, it was hard. The nurses wanted me to try and get up and walk that evening, but after getting so exhausted after just trying to sit up for 30 seconds the thought of me even trying to walk from my hospital bed to the door of my room seemed impossible.

That day of surgery was a huge struggle both physically and mentally. I felt like I had been run over by a dump truck, I couldn’t do anything for myself. I ambitiously thought before I went in for surgery I’d be in and out of the hospital in like three days. That evening after surgery I totally understood why they said my hospital stay was gonna be more like four to seven days.  Recovery was gonna be rough but I had no choice but to tackle it head-on.

I’m gonna be taking a break for a couple of weeks because the pressure of keeping up this channel, work, a big sewing project, and just everything at home is starting to stress me out a little bit and I’m feeling my anxiety start to kind of creep back in. But don’t worry, I won’t be gone for long. Hopefully, by mid-March, I’ll be back and better than ever.

Until then you can keep up with me on Instagram my handle there is colorado.jelena or on Twitter my name is Survivor_Jelena. I’ll have the links in the description too so you can just go down there and click on those to follow me. Make sure you share this video with anybody that you think might like it and please hit the like button for me so that YouTube knows that you’ve liked this video and then they’ll share with more people. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you again soon.

*This video was originally published on February 19, 2020

Getting Ready for Surgery – The Appointments

Today I’ll be talking with you about a few of the appointments that I had to go in for to make sure that my team was ready for my surgery, which was step two of my treatment plan. If you’re new here, welcome to Life as a Cancer Survivor! This channel is here to give you the ups and the downs of what life is like once you hear those words, “You have cancer.” My name is Jelena and in May of 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer. Make sure that you’ve clicked the subscribe button down here so that you’ll be notified when all of my future videos are uploaded to this channel.

Proctology table
Proctology table

Halfway through radiation and oral chemotherapy was when I had my first appointment with the surgeon. At that appointment he wanted to investigate for himself what the tumor looked like, so he had a special table in the room and I’ve laid face down on that with my butt and my legs hanging off of it, and then the table pivoted up so my butt was up in the air. He pulled out what my husband referred to as “the telescope” and used that to investigate and keep everything open during that investigation to see what my tumor looked like. Um, it was REALLY uncomfortable to say the least since I was in the middle of radiation.

He mentioned at that appointment that a few weeks before my surgery but after all of my radiation and oral chemotherapy was done, that I would need to go in for a tumor marking appointment because the tumor was on the inside of my rectum so when you get, I was gonna get cut on the outside, and they were gonna come in through the stomach so when they do that you can’t necessarily tell where the tumor was so they would go in and they would inject ink and on either side of where the tumor was and that ink would bleed through the walls so they would know exactly where to cut when they got inside of me.

Milk of Magnesia bottle

That procedure was done on September 29th which was three weeks before my surgery. Since it was another procedure where they had to go up my butt I needed cleansed again,but I did not have to do the full colonoscopy cleanse. For this one, I just had to do a low fiber diet the day before and at 10:30 a.m. that day before I needed to take six tablespoons of milk of magnesia. Then the next morning, that morning of the procedure, I had to do two enemas in a row at home and that was all that I needed to be cleaned out. I had to go into the hospital for this procedure so I was getting quite the collection of hospital bracelets already I hadn’t even gone in for my surgery yet.

Two weeks later it was time for my pre-surgery physical. I went into the hospital for that appointment and there was a special like pre-surgical/physical area that I went to. They drew my blood, they took all of my vitals like my blood pressure, and they did an EKG on me. I got a little bag that had this body wash in it which I was supposed to use to take not one but two showers before going in for surgery.

The night before I needed to take a shower, no lotion or deodorant after that shower, putclean clothes on go to bed, and then wake up the next morning, take another shower, scrub very thoroughly, get every nook and cranny, get in the belly button and do the abdominal area really well since that’s what they were cutting into, and then put another fresh outfit on and head to the hospital. I was also written a prescription for two antibiotics to take in the days leading up to my surgery and then of course I had to do another colonoscopy prep. This time the prep was: take four stool softeners the day before and then do that jug of Miralax, a jug of Gatorade and drink that to cleanse everything out.

They asked if I have a living will or an advanced directive at all. I didn’t have either of those at the time so they gave me at least a piece of paper that a form that they had that I could fill out that was a medical durable power of attorney which would designate my husband as the person that could make medical decisions for me in the case that I get incapacitated.

I was gonna be undergoing major surgery, but the doctor’s expectations were that I would survive it just fine. But having the worst-case scenario covered kind of, to me helped ensure that the worst-case scenario would not happen because we were prepared for it. Did you have a will or an advanced directive set up before you went in for surgery? Vote in the poll below and let me know yes or no.  

After that appointment, my husband John and I did have a discussion about what my wishes were in case the worst happened during surgery. For me, since I was only 35 and I had a five-year-old daughter when I was going in for surgery, I basically wanted them to do whatever they could to keep me alive and I did not really care what kind of medical intervention that they needed to do to make that happen. My goal was just to see my daughter grow up a little bit further and I didn’t care what kind of condition I was in as long as I was alive still.

Three days before my surgery I went in for my ileostomy marking appointment with a wound care nurse at the hospital. Just as a brief reminder, an ileostomy is when part of your small intestine is run out of your abdominal wall, you wear a bag over it to collect your waste, and so you’re basically pooping out of your stomach instead of out of your butt. In about two more videos I’ll be explaining what the different ostomies are in a little bit more detail so stay tuned for that.

I would get a temporary ileostomy because of the location of the tumor in my rectum. After the tumor was cut out of the colon and rectum and those two ends were resected, or sewn back together, there was about a 25% chance that that resected site could leak and you don’t want that waste swirling around in your abdomen. So to prevent that complication they give you a temporary ileostomy to give that reconnected site a chance to heal before waste starts running over it again or going through there again.

The whole family came with me to the appointment so they could also see what we needed to do to prepare for the ileostomy. So during that appointment, I was marked for it which meant that they were going to

stomach marked for an ileostomymark a location on my abdomen where they wanted the small intestine to be sticking out. First, she wanted to know where I usually wore my pants so that she could mark my waistband and make sure that the stoma didn’t fall right on that waistband. Then she marked around my belly button, which had been stretched out from pregnancy. And then she went to the right of the belly button and she made that big mark thereof where the stoma was gonna be going.

It was a hopeful location, because depending on what they found once they cut me open they may need to move it a little bit but that was the goal location of where it was going to be. For an ileostomy, it’s usually located on the right-hand side, because that’s where the small and large intestine connect up on in your body. The nurse showed me a picture of a stoma and then she brought out some of the appliances that they carry at the hospital which are the barriers and the bags that you wear to collect the waste, but it just wasn’t making any sense to me at all. Maybe partially because I was really thinking a lot about my surgery itself and that was a big scary thing and my mind just could not fathom or process how part of my inside was gonna stick out of my stomach for months.

I figured I’d be in the hospital for a few days so the nurses there can help me navigate that once it happens. But also, I’m pretty squeamish when it comes to blood and guts so I had no idea how I was going to be able to look down and see my small intestine sticking out of me without getting like woozy or completely grossed out. In hindsight, it probably would have been helpful for me to have at least watched a few videos on YouTube to see what an ileostomy looked like and how the bag changes went. Even while I was still in the hospital that probably would have been helpful. But I didn’t want to be scared by anybody that had had bad experiences so I preferred to stay and the “ignorance is bliss” camp for as long as possible.

That was the end of the appointments that I had, to get ready for surgery. Now I just had to pack my bags and try and rest up for a few days before going in. Mentally, I was pretty scared and I knew the only way that I was gonna get over that fear was just get into surgery and have it so after that last appointment I was ready to go in and just get it over with. In my next video, I’ll talk about all the things that I did at home to prepare for surgery and what I brought with me to the hospital.

If you or a loved one is going through radiation or oral chemotherapy check out my gift-giving video for some ideas on things that you can get that’ll make that journey a little bit more comfortable for you. Make sure that you have hit the like button over here if you enjoyed this video, that you’re subscribed so you’ll be notified when my new ones are posted, and I will see you next week.

*This video was originally published on January 15, 2020

Jelena packing for surgery

Getting Ready For LAR Surgery – Preparing My Caregivers and Packing

Hello and welcome to part two of getting ready for surgery. In this video, I’ll talk to you all about the things that I did at home to prepare and also what I packed to take with me to the hospital. As a stay-at-home mom, I needed a caregiver that was gonna be able to basically take my place for a few days while I was in the hospital. Plus, when I got home I was not really gonna be capable of doing a whole lot so I needed someone to be able to step in for me for a week or two once I got home from the hospital as well.

If you’re new here, welcome to Life as a Cancer Survivor. This channel is here to tell you all about what life is like once you hear those words “You have cancer.” My name is Jelena and in May of 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer.

Back to all the things at home that I did to prepare for surgery. We had justmoved into a new house a little bit over a month before my surgery so I gave myself the task of going around and trying to get to know as many neighbors as possible. Fortunately, multiple neighbors had daughters that were Maelle’s age, so that kind of made it easy to determine which neighbors were important to tell about what I was gonna be going through. Those neighbors whose daughters were playing with ours were quickly becoming our friends as well so I thought it was really important for them to know what was going on because their daughters wouldn’t be able to come over and play at our house, Maelle would have to go over and play at their place.

Thankfully they were all wonderful about me telling them about my diagnosis and my upcoming surgery and they all offered to watch Maelle whenever I needed some extra rest or if I need to go to any appointments. So that was a huge plus to telling people that were nearby in the neighborhood what was going on.

Since my parents were coming in to visit for two weeks to help out I made them a map of the neighborhood or rather the immediate block around our house and highlighted everybody on that map that knew that I had cancer. Then on that map, I also added in all of the houses where I made friends with the adults and had disclosed that I was going in for surgery and they had offered up to help in any way that we needed. So for all of those families that offered up help, I put all of the family members names and then made a note of who Maelle’s friend was from that list, and then put the full address and their phone numbers on there so my parents could contact them if my parents needed any help, but also in case Maelle went over to their houses to play, then they had a phone number and a parent to contact or walk over and know who to talk to when she needed to come home.

My parents were coming into town with the intention of helping out as much as they could and allowing me to rest as much as possible. They’re very active and don’t like sitting around a whole lot so they were the perfect people to have come in for those first few weeks. I made sure to specifically tell them that we were going to be relying on them to make dinners for us every night while they were here so that they could plan recipes ahead of time before they came out. Since John, Maelle, and I are all vegetarians that made it much easier on them so they had time to prepare and came with handfuls of delicious recipes of things to make while I was in the hospital and when I came home.

If you don’t have caregivers or local friends that are able to bring you meals and make meals for you in those first couple of weeks, I’d highly recommend prepping some freezer meals for yourself so then all you have to do is pull the meal out of the freezer and stick it in the oven and that’s all the work that you have to do so that you’ve got a nice homemade meal.

My parents were also here to watch Maelle for those first few days while I was in the hospital so that John could come and stay with me for as long as he wanted to and not have to worry about dragging an antsy five-year-old with him that really could only last for about a half-hour before she was ready to go at the hospital.

Since they were Maelle’s primary caregivers for a few days they needed to know the address of her school, the hours that she was there, and I also needed to add them to the approved adults list at the school so that they were okay-ed to take her off school grounds. They also came armed with plenty of ideas of things to do to help keep her distracted from how weak I was in the hospital and when I first came home.

A few days before my hospital stay my husband gave me a few gifts to try and make my stay a little bit more comfortable. All these gifts I’ll have listed the links for them in the description below so if you see anything that you like or are interested in, head down there and I’ve done all the research for you. Everything is still working great after two years.

So the first thing he got me were six pairs of slipper socks. So these ones,they are not doing quite as well as everything else because they’re slipper socks, so I walk around in them all the time in the house, we’ve got a lot of wood floors, so some of them have gotten a few holes in them but they’ve held up much better than any other pair of slippers sock that I’ve ever had. But they’ve got the grippies on the bottom and they’re way more comfortable than the hospital socks. Or at least I think so, my cousin apparently loves those hospital socks.

Then he splurged and got me this tablet plus some gift cards to download movies, books, TV shows, whatever I wanted. I downloaded a few books and then I also downloaded two albums of spa music which I would highly recommend because I played those at nighttime to try and drown out the noises from all of the machines and stuff in my room that were hooked up to me. And going down that route another awesome thing that he also splurged and got me were some noise-canceling headphones. He got me some really nice Bose ones which would have been fantastic for the hospital stay except I accidentally left them on our counter the day before my surgery and our cat Charlie chewed through the wire. The wires inside of these are

Bose headphoneslike the sizes of hairs so my dad tried his best to fix them and splice them back together but normal household tools are just too big to try and get these fixed so I didn’t have them for that hospital stay but any kind of nice noise-canceling headphones would be great.

If you’re not quite into splurging on some noise-canceling headphones, just some earplugs to drown out or at least muffle the hospital noise are a good way to try and attempt to get some sleep in the hospital. If you can’t sleep with all the lights blinking, with lights blinking around you a nice sleep mask would be great to bring as well.

One other comfort item that he gave me is this super soft and snuggly blanket. It’s a huge throw and it’s so warm. I used this also when I went to chemo even though they have the heated blankets there I brought this puppy with me. I packed a carry-on bag to take with me to the hospital. In that bag, I packed two or three pairs of clothes to wear while I was at the hospital, haha! I only changed out of the hospital gown when it was time for me to be discharged but for that one outfit that you’re gonna wear when you go home, I highly recommend something with a very loose waistband because they pump your abdomen up with gas to do your surgery, so you’re still gonna be a little swollen from that and you most likely are gonna have some staples or stitches around in that waist area. You don’t want tight pants on that at all. Baggy pants; best choice.

Make sure you pack all the necessary toiletry items like toothbrush and toothpaste, comb or brush, and any of your favorite shower items. The hospital may have some of those but they’re gonna suck and you’re not gonna want to use them. I also brought with me this hilarious book which I got over the summer and I mentioned in my gift-giving video. It was literally painful for me to read because I had like a six inches, six-inchbookincision down my abdomen that was stapled shut so laughing HURT, but I sucked it up for humor because I needed some light-hearted humor. But it hurt to read funny books, FYI.

Last but not least I brought this photo album that Maelle made with my mother-in-law that has pictures of some flowers and then pictures of us from our most recent vacation before I was diagnosed so it was a reminder of happier times and that the misery that I was in during the hospital stay was just temporary.

And now I was as ready as I could be for surgery. In case you forgot what my treatment plan was here’s the link to the video you can click on that or link is in the description below as well. If you enjoyed this video I’d really appreciate it if you gave it a thumbs up and shared it with anybody that you think also might enjoy it. Thank you for watching.

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🎁Links to the items I recommend in the video:

🧦Noble Mount fuzzy slipper socks:

💻Samsung Galaxy S2 8” Tablet:

💆Zen Spa album:

💆Serenity Relaxing Spa Music:

🎧Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones:

💙Cozy blanket:

📘Book I received that was hilarious:

*This video was originally published on January 22, 2020