Receiving A Diagnosis: The Decision Of A Lifetime
Patient Perspective Paul Riome had a choice to make when he heard the words “you have cancer.”
You can do one of two things: you can throw your hands up and say that’s it, or you can fight for your life. I made the choice to have a Colostomy. My life has just begun.
It was a good trade. I had ignored daily rectal bleeding for two years, assuming only hemorrhoids, and refusing all medical examinations and procedures. I did eventually succumb to a colonoscopy, and was diagnosed with Invasive Adenocarcinoma (Rectal Cancer), with prescribed treatment of Abdomino-Perineal Resection (surgery including a permanent colostomy). At the age of 59, I had cancer and my life-expectancy was uncertain.
"Exactly 4 months after surgery, I was back playing hockey with the same tenacious grit as before."
Very early in my adventure, I resolved that “I will live. After surgery I will do everything that I could do before surgery.” I was inspired by Rob Hill of IDEAS, who showed tremendous determination to recover from daunting medical challenges, climbed real mountains, and now works tirelessly giving-back by inspiring others to face their own challenges and move their own mountains. Exactly 4 months after surgery, I was back playing hockey with the same tenacious grit as before.
This gave me the freedom and attitude-adjustment to actually live and experience adventures that had been dormant on my bucket-list. I hiked the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island and Lake O’Hara in the Canadian Rockies. I surfed and snorkeled in Mexico and Costa Rica. I trekked 60 days in rugged Nepal and summited Island Peak in Nepal (6189m or 20,306ft).
My journey was certainly life-changing and in a good way. I appreciate life more than before. I have simplified life to do more of what I want to do, and less of what others think I am obligated to do. When embarking on new life-experiences, or again experiencing treasured places or activities, I am humbled and thankful for the opportunity given to me. A colostomy is not as good as the original equipment, but I get to live. Living is everything.
Three years ago my doctor told me I could have a perfectly normal life with a colostomy.
I didn’t believe him then. I do believe him now.