Timeline and Quick Facts

I’ve recorded the above video in November 2017, shortly after I was discharged from my penultimate surgery, and just after I got the “all clear”. It’s probably a little long as a promotional and snappy opener, but it tells my whole story in some detail.

July 2015

Started exhibiting symptoms of painful urination and frequent diarrhoea. Ultrasound revealed a “mass” in my abdomen.

A CT Scan revealed an inflammation in the area that required treatment with strong antibiotics, administered via PICC line (Zosyn, Merrem and Invanz)

January 2016

Colonoscopy revealed a blockage at 15cm, mostly likely cancerous

February 2016

At Baptist Hospital, open surgery revealed a 20cm tumour, prompting a complete sigmoid colon resection and partial resection of several peripheral parts. Diagnosis was stage 3 colon cancer. Fistulas to bladder, appendix and caecum were also removed.

Chemotherapy was scheduled for April. I was given a temporary colostomy.

One week after discharge, a tennis ball sized tumour was discovered in my bladder and resected during a cystoscopy. As a result, chemotherapy was postponed by one month.

April 2016

Genetic Testing revealed that my cancer was caused by Lynch Syndrome. In addition, it was found to be K-RAZ positive and MSH-2 high. Bummer!

May 2016

FOLFOX chemotherapy was administered, but didn’t work.

After 8 infusions, the tumour had regrown to another 12cm monster while I was on Oxaliplatin and 5FU. The tumour was resected again on the inside of the bladder, however it was still present on the outside of the bladder.

The only recommended course of action was a radical cystectomy. But because Baptist Hospital could not perform this procedure at the time, we were refused further treatment and advised to go “elsewhere”.

We found Mount Sinai Hospital, who were happy to try an alternative approach, deeming a cystectomy as too radical.

July 2016

At Mount Sinai, radiation therapy in conjunction with FOLFIRI chemotherapy shrank the tumour from 12cm to 6cm.

August 2016

A fistula developed between my disconnected rectum and my bladder. As a result, I was now urinating from my rectum. Because of the fistula, we stopped the radiation therapy, but kept the chemotherapy going.

After a total of 8 FOLFIRI treatments, the tumour didn’t shrink any further despite increasing side effects.

December 2016

Stopped FOLFIRI in preparation for possible surgery

January 2017

The tumour started growing again instantly and a second fistula developed from my small intestine to the bladder, leading to a heavy abdominal infection.

To avoid sepsis, I was put on a cyclic TPN. At the time, surgery was deemed impossible.

My life was now a painful nightmare: I couldn’t walk anymore without the help of a stick and/or a wheelchair, had to urinate under extreme pain every 10-30 minutes and couldn’t sleep as a result. A full pelvic exenteration was on the cards, but due to my severely weakened condition couldn’t be performed.

Hence, my oncologist chose to give me a somewhat experimental treatment called immunotherapy.

February 2017

Started treatment with KEYTRUDA. No detectable side effects.

March 2017

Started feeling slightly better every day: less pain walking and less pain during urination. Started sleeping again. Felt fit enough to walk again.

April 2017

Felt fit enough to start cycling again, including rides to and from our home to Mount Sinai Hospital (about 8 miles in total).

July 2017

Spontaneous weight gain of 2-3lb per week, even though I was still on TPN and therefore controlled amount of calories. Suspected side effect was inflamed and probably fried thyroid. Otherwise I felt better than ever.

October 2017

Surgery was scheduled to reverse my colostomy and remove any residual tumour tissue, including a possible cystectomy depending on what an open procedure would reveal. Previous cystectomy in January showed plenty of necrotic bladder tissue, so the surgery required both a colon surgeon and a skilled urologist

The procedure was performed at Baptist Hospital and – to everyone’s huge surprise – revealed NO RESIDUAL TUMOUR TISSUE.

Fistulas were removed with minimal bladder resection. My colostomy was closed and a temporary ileostomy was placed. The TPN was stopped, and after 8 months I started eating again.

December 2017

In a second surgery, the remaining ileostomy was closed. Plumbing was now fully restored.

No further cancer tissue was found. Result!