Rectal cancer


I am 36 year old and was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer in April this year. I have undergone chemoradiotherapy and am currently waiting for surgery. I finished my treatment in June so this wait has been very hard, feel like I am in limbo.

I meet with my consultant next week and will find out the results from my ct/mri scans to see if the treatment has had any effect and what surgery is going to look like for me.

So was just wondering if anyone has had the same type of treatment and what surgery and recovery looked like for them. 


  • Hi  and a warm welcome to the board. Yes it’s strange during the wait for the chemoradiotherapy to finish working - I almost forgot I was ill! Hopefully the scans will show a good shrinkage so that the surgeon can remove the tumour with clear margins - mine shrank from 4cm to 1cm. 
    I had a Low Anterior Resection - the tumour was 9cm from my anus - and a temporary stoma to allow the bowel chance to heal. Depending on whether you have any lymph nodes affected, then you may need follow up chemo but we’ll cross that bridge if you get to it. 
    I’m not the best example of recovering from an operation as I had a few set backs along the way but the stay in hospital is about 5-7 days. You may have keyhole or open surgery which will be discussed with you and, if you do need a stoma, then the nurses will make sure you are fully comfortable with it before discharge. They will be keen to get you up and about in the hospital and walking up and down. 
    Recovery at home is about 5 weeks and you can drive after about 6 weeks or when you can safely perform an emergency stop. No heavy lifting but you’ll be advised of all this at your appointment.

    If you click on my name then you can see my treatment to date. I went through treatment online with 2 ladies who were also stage 3 - their recoveries were a lot more text book! - but we’re all still cancer free. I’ve attached a link to a booklet about the operation which you might like to have a quick look at?

    Hope the meeting goes well and please let us know how you get on?

    Take care

    Karen x

  • Hi Karen

    Thanks for your reply, it has helped me know more about what i am facing. I will have a read of the booklet also.

    Yes I am hoping the treatment has shrunk the tumour and surgery will be soon. I'll know more next week and will come on and update. 

    Thanks again x

  • Hello Libra84

    i was diagnosed in February this year and had 5 weeks chemo and radiotherapy that finished in early May. I had my CT and MRI scans during August and They showed what looked like scar tissue. I had a sigmoidoscopy to check and biopsies were taken. They came back clear so when I had my appointment with the surgeon at the beginning of the month I was told I don’t need surgery at the moment and I’ve been put on a programme called watch and wait. This means an MRI and Sigmoidoscopy every 4 months for 2 years and then every 6 months for a further 3 years with immediate surgery if changes are found at any time. I was convinced I’d need surgery but apparently there is a 25% chance the chemo/radiotherapy will get rid of the tumour so there are other possibilities besides surgery as an outcome. I wish you all the best for your further treatment and recovery.

  • Hi Jbel 59, 

    Thanks for your reply. Glad you have seen such good results from your treatment, and hope you will not need any further treatment in the future.

    I was told yesterday that my treatment has been successful in shinking the tumour quite a lot but its still there. I'll be needing surgery to remove it and will require a temporary stoma.

    I am just trying to prepare myself for surgery and trying to remain as positive as possible. 

  • Hello Libra84

    sending you very best wishes for your surgery and a swift recovery afterwards. Well done for staying positive - it’s really hard sometimes but it definitely helps!

    Best Wishes


  • Hello Libra84.  So good to hear chemoradiotherapy has successfully shrunk the tumour and that surgery can go ahead.

    I had a Low Anterior Resection with temporary ileostomy in January 2021 after being diagnosed at end of last year. I had keyhole surgery. I then had 3 months chemotherapy (FOLFOX) as a mop-up exercise as 1 node affected.

    I would suggest you eat as healthy a diet as possible keep and keep as fit as possible before your operation as this will aid your recovery.  I don’t mean going to the gym - regular daily walking will be good.  Be prepared to feel very weak and vulnerable immediately after your surgery.  I was shocked how just getting out of bed wiped me out!  Be kind to yourself and take one day at a time and don’t push yourself too hard – give your body chance to heal itself. 

    They’ll want to get you up and out of bed and walking around as soon as possible after the operation and the stomas nurses will ensure you are happy looking after your stoma before discharge.  My recovery went well on the whole although a few set backs with infections etc but nothing we couldn’t handle. I was very tired for a while and used to have an afternoon snooze for the first few weeks and tried to get outside for a little walk and some fresh air as often as possible, after around 4 weeks I was feeling much like myself again.

    I found it pretty scary when first realised I’d need a temporary ileostomy but you get used to it surprisingly quickly and it now doesn’t stop me doing anything.

    Hope you get dates for your operation soon.  Ask anything meantime and keep us posted.

    Take Care.


  • Hello Net77

    Thank you for such a positive and informative post. I could still need surgery in the future and having a stoma is what worried me the most so it’s really nice to read that you’ve got used to it and it doesn’t stop you doing anything. 
    Best wishes for your continued recovery.


  • Hi Net77 

    Thanks for your post, ive been trying to eat as healthy as possible since my diagnosis, but will take your advice about the walking.

    I've never had any surgery before so it is quite daunting. I am finding it helpful to read about other people's experiences just so I know what to expect. 

    Its good to hear you got used to your ileostomy so quickly and it doesn't stop you from doing anything. Hopefully I'll have the same experience.

    Gayle x

  • It definitely does

    Thanks Judy x