My name is Mark Doherty, and I am a stage III rectal cancer survivor. I became a CCA buddy back in 2006, because I wanted to help others through the rough parts of their cancer. My cancer was discovered in 2005. I went through the standard process of radiation and chemo, surgery with an ileostomy bag, then back into chemo as a result of having cancerous lymph nodes. In general, I did very well handling the whole process. My real issues didn't begin until I had my bag reversed in November of 2005.
I remember I was so excited to have my bag reversed, thinking this would be the last of it and I'd finally get back to normal. Normal never happened. As many of you have experienced, I was going to the bathroom over 20 times a day. It was unbearable. I went to work every day during cancer treatments but had never called in sick until my bag was reversed. I fought MPS for months, but things didn't improve. After talking to my surgeon, the only options I had were trying enemas or going back on the bag.
With that, I began doing enemas back in 2006. I did an enema every day until January 2009. I developed a good routine and my body adjusted to it. Enemas allowed me to work, play golf, really do anything I wanted to do without having to run to the bathroom every five minutes. I have talked to many survivors with MPS and shared my experiences. As a Buddy, I learned early on that what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. I think the survivors I talked to do not like the idea of being tied down to doing an enema and, like myself, really hoped their situations would improve as time went on. Mine did not.
I made a major decision recently. In January 2009 I had surgery and went back to an ileostomy bag fulltime. After 3 years of daily enemas with no relief in sight, I decided it was time to face the music. I tried many times to go off the enema hoping things would improve, but they did not. At 52, and with many more things to do in my life, going back to the bag was an easy decision for me. I spent two hours every evening doing my routine enema. Now I can come home from work and spend time with the family doing what I want. In many ways it has given me my life back. I am anxious to start exercising and running again. I never had the time before.
My goal as a Buddy is simple: be a good listener, share my experiences, and try to help survivors through their difficult times. I've always been a straight shooter, and I call them as I see them. I think most of the survivors I talk to appreciate that. Mostly, I felt alone when I had so many issues and felt that if I could get involved and help someone through a tough time, it was the least I could do.