This was how my 1st surgeon told me about my options and my initial reaction!
“The preferred method of dealing with cancer of the colon and rectum is surgery” explained Mr.Lunnis.
“Fifty years ago,” he explained, “a surgical technique was developed called an Abdomino-Perineal Excision of the rectum.” I raised an eyebrow at him; this was no time for big words. I looked over at Rachel and gave her little reassuring thumbs up, fifty years ago, no problem, I thought. He continued: “It is a fairly major operation which is designed to completely remove the threat of cancer from the region”.
“Sounds good,” I agreed. “So what does the procedure involve?” I was feeling pretty optimistic: completely remove the threat of cancer, cool. Mr.Lunnis then went on to explain the whole operation to Rachel and myself:
“An incision is made from around your diaphragm all the way down to the base of your stomach”, he explained whilst trailing a finger down my front to just below my belt line for added affect. “Once you are opened up we will go in through your stomach, take out your insides to get to the large bowel – obviously, they will be replaced after the procedure is completed. Then we shall remove your entire large bowel and your anus, w…”
“What do you mean by remove my anus?” I felt that this little tit-bit needed further investigation.
“Well it is like an apple core. To be on the safe side we feel that it would be advisable to remove all possible areas where the cancer might spread to. So the large bowel and the anus are removed and where your anus was we would simply sew it together.” He reiterated, with a twisting hand action to emphasise the apple core motion, just in case I had not got it completely the first time.
“Ok, so this was fifty years ago, what new fangled operation have we got now?” I knew that I was onto a loser here, but one can try.
“I’m afraid that is it. There are other complications that you should be aware of though.”
“Going in through the stomach does bring us into close proximity to your genital region, and there is a chance of infertility”.
“That should return to normal however!” chipped in Dr. Ballinger.
“Indeed,” agreed Mr.Lunnis. “However there is another potential problem in that area. Running from your genitals up towards your stomach are a couple of nerves that control your erection. The surgery will be very close to these nerves and there is a chance that they might be damaged, which would therefore lead to permanent impotency.”
“What sort of chance?” I enquired.
“About 30%, 1 in 3.”
“You’ve never been in sales have you?”
“Don’t give up the day job, that was the worst pitch I’ve ever heard!”
“I’ll bear that in mind.”
“So you’re telling me that although in the last fifty years we’ve sent men to the moon, invented the Internet, and developed computers that can fit on the head of a needle, the best you can offer me is to remove my sodding arse?”
“Well yes. If we are to be certain that we get all of the cancer I can only recommend this procedure.”
“But what about the Sunday Papers, I can’t very well read them standing next to the toilet can I? It’s just not the same!” I had gone on one, by this stage. Remove my Arse! Sod that for a game of marbles.