My mom asked me if I’m on any medication since I completed my treatment (surgery and chemotherapy) for Stage 3 Colon Cancer more than a year ago. She wanted to validate that I’m not on any medication because her breast cancer survivor friend who is on medication was surprised to learn that I’m not.
I get this question a lot.
Pretty much every person who learns about my cancer and chats with me about it asks me if I’m on medication.
Well, cancer is not 1 disease but hundreds, if not thousands of different diagnosis that lead to different treatments. A breast cancer survivor may need to be on short term medication, a thyroid cancer survivor may need to be on long term hormonal medication but a colon cancer survivor..?
I am not well versed with cancer myself despite going through the entire ordeal personally so I’d just leave the topic about different treatments for different cancer diagnosis there.
For my case of colon cancer, the cancer started as a polyp in my large intestine and grew into a tumor that penetrated through the wall of my large intestine. The cancer cells then travelled to my surrounding lymph nodes and blood vessels.
I got a surgery to take care of the tumor and got chemotherapy to take care of the potential cancer cells that may have escaped beyond lymph nodes and blood vessels. Chemotherapy was my medication for 6 months.
With those two treatments completed, all doctor can do is just monitor me through blood tests and scans to make sure firstly, no new polyp in my large intestine and secondly, no new tumor anywhere else in my body.
The blood test tracks things like cancer marker so that doctor gets a hint of possible recurrence when the number goes off the chart.
One of the scans that I do periodically is colonoscopy, where doctor inserts a camera into my intestine to see if there’s any new polyp. I did this mid this year and am due for the next one same time next year.
I’d be scheduled for CT scan early next year to check on my other organs. The last CT scan I did was in Jan 2016 for the diagnosis.
So with these in place, I do not need to be on medication. I don’t think there’s any medication to prevent recurrence of colon cancer at the moment. If any, maybe I’m helping the researchers to develop a medication by testing a drug for them.
I was recruited to join a drug study by my oncologist where they want to find out if aspirin (an anti-inflammatory blood thinner typically taken by heart patients) lower the risk of colon cancer recurrence. Polyp starts from inflammation so if we prevent inflammation, do we prevent polyp and ultimately colon tumor?
This is a double blinded study where my doctor and myself do not know if I’m taking aspirin or placebo. So is this medication? I’d say no at this moment because we’re experimenting if it’s doing anything at all.
Besides aspirin, I am given another prescription that I take daily too. It’s a Vitamin B supplement to help my nerves heal. My nerves were slightly damaged due to chemotherapy drug. So this nerve issue is not caused by cancer but by cancer treatment. Is this medication? I’d say it’s supplement for my chemotherapy side effects.
There you have it. I am not on medication after surviving cancer because there’s no medicine to prevent recurrence of colon cancer at the moment. Hoping the drug study that I’m doing helps the researchers learn more about drugs and colon cancer recurrence so that we can develop a cure for colon cancer one day!