Caution: This post deals with graphic details of colon cancer. It's probably of more interest to those experiencing such symptoms than to someone here to learn about cancer in general.
In the 2.5 months since restarting chemotherapy for my colon cancer recurrence I have noticed some new symptoms. Actually, they started a few weeks before the diagnosis and are part of what prompted the tests that found two new tumors, one inside my rectum and one in the adjacent soft tissue.
I often have a feeling of fullness in my rectum like I'm ready for a big bowel movement, but when I go to the bathroom I pass only a little bit of stool. Or sometimes I don't pass any stool but just a couple teaspoons of tan mucus. Whatever I pass removes the urge, but it doesn't seem like enough to produce such an urge in the first place.
Now that we know there's a 1-inch tumor in there, I think that it's crowding my rectum and leaving me 75% full all the time. Then when a little bit of stool comes along I feel like I have a lot. That happens 6 to 12 times a day, and I usually wake up 2 to 4 times each night to relieve myself.
Another problem is that it's gotten harder to pass gas. I used to be able to feel gas enter my rectum and then pass it through my anus, usually without a fart sound. But now it seems to collect further upstream, and when I push it escapes loudly. Or it stays trapped until I pass the little bit of stool blocking the exit. Sometimes after a bowel movement I think I'm done, but when I stand up things shift around and I realize I have a bunch of gas to pass.
The sensation of fullness has also made it hard to determine when I have just an exaggerated feeling and when I really do have a big urgent bowel movement. That's led to some close calls when I wasn't prepared to deposit the unexpected proceeds.
All of these new symptoms make me uncomfortable at times. Most of the day I'm okay and if I'm busy then I'm less aware of the sensations. But it's more difficult to be in a close social situation or away from easy access to a bathroom. I get some relief when I take the pain-killer oxycodone which diminishes the rectal discomfort and slows intestinal motion for a few hours.
It's kind of scary to have symptoms that seem to arise from the cancer rather than the treatment. I'm used to dealing with nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and chemotherapy-induced bowel irregularities. But having new problems due to the cancer which might continue to worsen unless we find a way to shrink the tumors is scary.