One day I had a pain in my abdomen. The next day I had emergency surgery to remove part of my colon and was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The receipt of a cancer diagnosis is quite unsettling and causes significant anxiety largely as a result of the uncertainty created by a lack of understanding of the nature of the disease, the nature and side effects of the various alternative treatments of the disease and the potential outcomes of the treatment of the disease. I was blessed with both an excellent oncologist and surgical oncologist and a supportive family who tirelessly researched my disease on the internet. I was equally blessed to have been introduced to Filomena and CCRAN shortly after my diagnosis.
Filomena immediately understood the nature of my particular colon cancer and confirmed the advice of my oncologist and the research performed by my family which was essentially to the effect that I should undergo 6 months of chemotherapy after which I would hopefully qualify for cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC. Filomena then invited my wife and I to attend one of CCRAN’s monthly meetings which we did. At that meeting , as we went around the room with everyone explaining their particular journey, it turned out that there were two individuals present who had a similar form of cancer to mine and had already completed their chemotherapy and cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC. After attending just that initial meeting and listening to each patient’s story together with Filomena’s guidance I had a much clearer understanding of the journey I was about to undertake.
I would highly recommend that any colorectal patient contact Filomena at CCRAN immediately upon receipt of a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Although each patient is unique, Filomena has a complete understanding of the intricacies of the various forms of cancer, an up to date understanding of the various colorectal cancer treatments including the most recent clinical trials and the experience to assist patients navigate their way through our healthcare system. In addition, CCRAN’s monthly meetings present clinical research updates so CCRAN patients have the most up to date knowledge possible to assist them in their journey and to have meaningful dialogue with their oncologists. I am very grateful to Filomena, CCRAN and every colorectal patient that has attended any of the CCRAN monthly meetings I have attended either in person or via Zoom as I have learned something from each of them.