Husband rectal cancer surgery

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Hello, I am new to the community, though I have read many helpful comments, I haven’t made any myself.

My husband has advance stage 3 rectal cancer, he has had chemo and chemo/radiotherapy, and now will go in for surgery in a couple of weeks.  I’m staying strong in his presence, though I am struggling in private.  His surgery will result in a stoma, we won’t know whether a temporary or permanent one, until they open him up.  

I would appreciate any advice on what I can say or do to support him through his surgery and recovery.

thank you and I hope everyone is doing ok.

  • Hi  and a warm welcome to the board. It’s hard watching your loved ones go through this isn’t it but we’re here for you and the support desk is also there if you want to chat to someone in person.

    Your hubby will probably be in hospital 5-7 days and, if he does have a stoma, the nurses will make sure he is able to cope with it before discharging him. The nurses will have him out of bed as soon as possible and encourage him to get up and walk about - initially he’ll probably have a few tubes and drips in but these will be taken out over the following few days. The nurses will keep on top of his pain medication and it’s advisable to take the pain killers when offered rather than waiting till you’re in pain. The bowel can be slow to wake up after surgery so it’s a good idea to keep his meals light for the first few days.

    Once home he’ll be able to get a decent nights sleep! He won’t be able to drive for 6 weeks (or until he can safely perform an emergency stop) and not lift anything heavier than a kettle with 1 cup of water in. Encourage him to keep moving and, once he feels up to it, take short walks outside increasing a bit each day. 

    If he does have a stoma then you can come on here and I’ll send you a link to the stoma board? I’ve attached a link to a booklet about the operation and things to take into hospital - an extra long charging is a must

    Support wise will depend on the individual - some people like to be nursed and others don’t like being fussed over so play it by ear and see how he feels?

    Hope the op goes well and please feel free to ask anything you like?

    Take care

    Karen x

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm
  • Thank you Karen for your reply, very helpful.  

  • I wanted to give an update on my husband’s surgery, to give some hope to others.

    The surgery went really well.  The surgeon was able to remove the tumour without any complications during an 9 hour operation.  Taking out a large part of the bowel, he was able to reconnect the bowel and put in a temporary stoma to allow the bowel to recover, before a reversal.

    We worked hard on getting my husband (70 yrs) fit, walked the dog twice a day, about 2 miles each walk.  The most important exercise we did was pelvic floor exercises.  These ensured the muscles were strong enough (chemo and radiotherapy makes them weak) so the bowel could be reconnected.

    They are very simple and easy exercises to do, we did them everyday for 2 months before the surgery.  Gets boring, but well worth doing.  We felt for the first time that we were in control on getting my husband where he needed to be before the op.

    i hope this gives some positive energy and hope to others.

    take care everyone


  • This is brilliant   well done to your husband for getting himself the best outcome possible .

    And to you to for supporting him .


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  • Hi all, hope you are keeping positive.

    Latest update on my husband’s advance stage 3 bowel cancer.

    As previously mentioned the surgery went really well. We have had the results of the biopsy of the large tumour and 27 lymph nodes removed.  

    It was CANCER FREE….no living cancer cells found at all.  The surgeon said he was not expecting that, the scans after the chemo and chemo/radiotherapy showed no change, they were not confident that the treatment had worked at all, so they were very surprised with the results.  He said it’s a miracle, something doctors never say.  The consultant also said he hasn’t seen this before. 

    So, if you are in a similar situation with advanced stage cancers, please keep positive, take as much control as you can, and stay strong, you can beat it.

    We are now having 3 months of chemo as a belt and braces option, to reduce the risk of it coming back, and to mop up any cells lying around somewhere.  The side effects are so far not as bad as first time around, so we are taking it one day at a time.

    I wanted to send this update to give someone hope, who might be feeling down, scared, lonely or wanting to give up, that there is always a chance for success, more than you might think.  It is a long road to travel, but you will get there, stay strong, you have got this.

    love and positive vibes to everyone.


  • Lovely to hear some good news, gives us all hope x

  • That’s fantastic news  and Thankyou for sharing. Hope he continues to tolerate the chemo well x

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm
  • Thank you for your reply Kareno62.

    I hope it gives people hope of some light at the end of a dark journey.

    love and best wishes.


  • RNE, thanks for the reply.

    It is lovely to be in a position where I can share some good news.  I know at the beginning of our journey, reading some positive stories gave us hope, and we want to pass that hope to everyone.

    take care of yourself.


  • Hello everyone,

    I wanted to give an update on how my husband who had advance stage 3 bowel cancer is doing.

    To re-cap, he had successful surgery in January, the tumour was removed, a temp stoma put in. So the bowel could recover.  The biopsy results showed the cancer cells were all dead.  The oncologist recommended 6 further chemo sessions to kill any remaining cells in his body.

    The chemo side effects were not as bad as the first sessions last year, when he was really ill with cancer.  Though he was tired, felt sick and had the metal taste most of the time.  The pins and needles in his hands and feet, didn’t get worst, so we are hoping in time will improve, not life affecting, just annoying.

    Fulling the completion of chemo.  He had two type of scans, one to see if the bowel join was working ok and he could have the reversal operation.  The results were great, everything looked really good, healthy and no internal leaks, he is booked in end of July.  He is so so happy, as he hates having a stoma.

    The second scan was to see if there was any cancer.  Great news.   All clear…….!

    So after 17 months to the day, we have finally beaten cancer.  Anyone in a similar position, please stay positive, research and do what you can to make the journey as easy as possible.

    Things we did to take some control.  We made sure my husband walked everyday, small meals as often as he could, he lost 3 stone, which at 6.2 being 11 stone, was like his weight at 16 years old, he has now put on 4 lbs, so we will get there, one day at a time.  We did pelvic floor exercises everyday for two months before his operation, and as I have said before, the surgeon said it did make a difference when reconnecting the bowel.

    Remember as the carer, to look after yourself.  It is easy to put all your focus on the patient and not on yourself.  

    Try and stay positive, I know it is easier said that done, but take one day at a time, do what you can, take some control of the situation, seek or take help from others, ask questions, take care of yourself, and most of all,  love your loved ones, be there for each other, you will surprise yourself how strong you are.  I look back and think, I’m so proud of myself, I stepped up and we got through it together, I didn’t think I could do it at the beginning, it is frightening, but believe in yourself.

    I hope our story will bring some support and comfort to others.  Please feel free to ask any questions, if I can help or point you in the right direction, I will.

    take care, love