Rectal cancer survivor: Immunotherapy saved my life

Some days, I look back at my rectal cancer treatment, and I honestly can’t believe how far I’ve come. The fact that I’m not only alive but stable is remarkable. My nightmare with rectal cancer began in November 2016, when I was 54. I started to feel discomfort just days before my first colonoscopy. My doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with my colon, but because my pain was intensifying, he sent me to a colorectal surgeon. A biopsy confirmed I had adenocarcinoma in my rectum. I’d worked as a nurse in Houston for 32 years, and even though I really liked my colorectal surgeon, I knew I’d be crazy if I didn’t come to the world’s top cancer hospital for treatment. So, I scheduled an appointment at MD Anderson in Sugar Land, which is just minutes from my home. My rectal cancer treatment From the start, surgical oncologist Dr. Craig Messick told me that even though my cancer hadn’t spread, adenocarcinoma like mine tends to be more aggressive when it starts in the rectum, compared to the colon. Still, I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. I finished 28 days of simultaneous radiation therapy and oral chemo and prepared for an abdominoperineal resection, a surgery to remove my rectum and distal colon. But during my pre-op preparation, new scans showed the cancer had spread to my liver. My surgery was canceled, and I quickly met with surgical oncologist Dr. Yun Shin Chun. Within days, my care team had developed a new plan: two months of chemotherapy, followed by a liver resection and two more months of chemo. After...