He almost fell apart many times, but overcame them with the love of his family and his natural cheerfulness.
Stage 3b is when cancer cells have invaded deeper than the muscle layer and metastasized to the lymph nodes. To reduce the size of the tumor as much as possible he was administered anticancer drugs before the surgery.
“I was given four courses of anticancer drugs, the first of which caused no side effects at all. I even ate a bowl of katsudon (pork cutlet on rice) after the administration of the anticancer drug. However, I collapsed the next day, which made me realize how scary anticancer drugs are. Even so, I managed to finish the four courses and the tumor became smaller, so I underwent a robotic surgery called “da Vinci.”
The 14-hour surgery was a success. However, many challenges awaited him after the surgery. After the tumor was removed and the intestines were stitched together, a stoma (artificial anus) was created for several months to prevent the risk of suture failure. Once it is confirmed that there is no suture failure, the stoma is removed and the patient undergoes surgery to allow excretion through the original anus, but in some cases, depending on the location of the tumor, the patient may wear a stoma for the rest of his life after surgery. In Kuwano’s case, he did not know before the surgery which would be the case.
His doctor told him, “Unless you have the surgery, you won’t know if you will have a stoma for the rest of your life or not. If the stoma is on the left side after the surgery, it will be for life, but if it is on the right side, it will be temporary.” So when he woke up from anesthesia, the first thing he did was to check and uttered, “Thank God!”
But while he was happy that his stoma was temporary, the first two weeks after the surgery were marked by suffering that he had never experienced before. In addition to the intravenous drip, his body was connected to several tubes, and he could not move at all. Kuwano recalls that it was a “living hell,” but at the same time he prayed to God, ” Please spare my life, because I am going through a living hell!”
Perhaps his prayers were answered, and he was discharged from the hospital in two and a half weeks. After the surgery, his stoma was temporary. But after spending three months with it, he think that it would not be a problem even if he had it for the rest of his life. “I never once leaked, and I was an honor student. The stoma can be covered, and there are many different designs. I was having fun with it and became attached to my stoma, thinking about using the cover from the comic book “Oni no Kenshu no Kai” (Blade of the Demon).”
After leaving the hospital, he began anticancer treatment to prevent recurrence, with the goal of participating in the “Rats & Stars” tour.
“I had managed to tolerate the preoperative anticancer treatment, so I thought I would be fine after the surgery, too. However, the side effects were terrible. I couldn’t move my body. The nausea was also great. I was moaning all night long, holding the toilet in my arms, and it was mentally overwhelming. I thought, ‘If I don’t do something, the anticancer drug will kill me.”
The side effects were so severe that he even suspended his blog for a while. When he consulted his doctor about stopping the anticancer drugs, he was told, “There is no guarantee that the anticancer drugs will not cause a recurrence. It is Kuwano who decides. However, you will have to remove the stoma when the anticancer drug is finished.”
“When the anticancer drug administration was stopped and the stoma was removed, I had trouble defecating. My doctor had told me in advance, so I was determined to put it back on in a week. I was determined to get back on track, but I had 60 bowel movements in 1 day. And even if I don’t have a bowel movement, I still have to go out. I started wearing adult diapers because I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. It was a blow to my self-esteem and I felt insecure about having to have a bowel movement even though I was wearing a diaper. Would they smell the stool? There was a time when I avoided meeting people because I was worried about the smell of the stools.