January 31, 2011

The Case of the Sinking Sigmoid

Having cancer is one giant lesson in anatomy. My Coordinating Nurse at Peter Mac told me early on that every cancer is different. She is right.

During the first review of my cancer, the Multidisciplinary Committee at Peter Mac noticed that my sigmoid colon (the part of my colon where my cancer is) is 'hanging lower' than it should be. After the meeting they called to let me know that this could be because (1) this is just how my sigmoid colon is, or (2) the tumor has grown through the colon wall and attached itself to some tissue in my lower pelvis. Anyone going for option 2? No, didn't think so.

Anatomy attack:
1. The sigmoid colon is like a set of traffic lights for poo, it red lights poo (up to seven hours!) until it is ready to leave your body
2. The sigmoid colon has its own membrane and actually has a bit of mobility (its position is not fixed in place like other organs)

The CT scan (see my first post) does not show enough detail so the Team wants me to have an MRI. Like the CT machine, an MRI machine looks like it comes from the future. And MRIs involve crazy physics that make my head hurt.

MRIs were clearly brought back from the future

MRI in a nutshell: MRI uses magnets to change the way the atoms in my body are lined up, then it uses a radio wave to excite the atoms, then it measures how they slow down once the radio wave is turned off. The magnet has to spin around my body to do this.

Am I worried that the tumour may have grown through the wall of my colon and is now acting like Pacman trying to eat anything in its path? Of course I am. 

Am I staying positive and looking forward to a scan I haven't had yet that will give me cool images to use in school shows when I get back to China? Absolutely.

When I tell people my sigmoid colon is hanging low they say that it must be because I am tall (see, you don't really need a medical degree to comment on complicated anatomical structures). When I told one friend, she said that it is because I have been living in China for four years and have spent too much time squatting while using my sigmoid colon (doing you know what).

I hope Naomi is right.

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