Pullin’ up my “big girl panties”


Nobody told me.

Nobody told me that the pelvic radiation would damage my sphincter.     

Nobody told me that pelvic radiation would damage my sphincter …. Badly.


It was, of course, in the literature … but nobody told me that I was going to have this long-lasting  AND DEFINITIVE side-effect.    The information sheet touched on it.  “Possible side effects”, it stated.   Possible bowel and bladder problems.

It “should’ve” been written:  You will have varying degrees of bowel and bladder incontinence.   You will have.

Damn you cancer!




I haven’t had too much of a problem with bladder control.  I have had some leakage when I am very active.  This is called STRESS INCONTINENCE.  And, I can’t feel the leakage so I wear a little pad to catch any dribble.  Not a big deal.

The bowel issue was completely different and  I was not emotionally prepared for the degree of humiliation that I experienced.

noun: humiliation; plural noun: humiliations
Synonyms:   embarrassment, mortification, shame, indignity, ignominy,  disgrace
My first experience with bowel incontinence was in a public place.  It was absolutely horrible.   Picture this ….. my husband and I are out of town with a realtor, looking at a nice house for possible purchase.   Uh oh!   I felt the urgency.   No problem though … I could just use the home owner’s bathroom.    WRONG.  There was no water at this house!!!   With a look of terror on my face, I grabbed my husband and said, “we have to go NOW!”    Before we made it to our vehicle, I had an accident.  I’m sure the realtor knew what had happened, although he did not know WHY it happened.   I truly wanted to die.  Right there.  Just kill me.  I cried hysterically.  My husband desperately to console me but I was angry.  Very angry.  Was this how it would be from now on?
I will spare you any further details.
After another public episode a couple months later, I resigned to the fact that, for the time being, I would have to purchase and wear pull ups.    I had to.    I just had to.
  • Disposable underwear.
  • Depends.
  • Diapers.
  • Whatever you want to call them.   I called them embarrassing.

After the emotional trauma of all that, I began researching.   I had no clue as to the number of people going through that exact same thing.   That both shocked and saddened me.

IT NEEDS TO BE TALKED ABOUT.  In fact, this article is being written because of the prompting and encouragement of a reader and fellow anal cancer warrior.

So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

First, please understand that you are not alone.  I am learning that nearly everyone that has had pelvic radiation experiences some degree of incontinence.  So, whether or not people are sharing this, it is occurring.

Secondly, places like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. carry incontinence products for a reason …. because they are needed.   If there was no demand for them, the retail market would not carry them.

Thirdly, the issues can improve over time.  Mine have.  Kegel exercises are beneficial.

Here is a link to a site with exercises for strengthening pelvic floor muscles.

  Kegel Exercise Information


When I first began entertaining the thought of incontinence products, this is what I had envisioned:

                    kjhkjhkj            -Adult-Diapers

The thought of pulling those up around my hips was depressing and traumatizing.



Below are some options that I found to be more appealing:

…. for Women ….   

silhouetter                                              Lacy%20Tena%20lady%20smaller_1

Silhouette (by Depends)                                                                                 Lacy Lady (by Tena)


             weareverlace                                                               always

Washable & reusable  (by WearEver)                              Incontinence pants (by Always Discreet)



…. and for the Men ….

 300                    boxer briefs

Real Fit (by Depends)                                         Protective men’s briefs (by Tena)


Classic briefs (by WearEver)



page break

After the initial shock, the peace of mind that came, was worth it.    And,  I would imagine that this is better than having a colostomy bag.   So …. I took a deep breath, pulled up my big girl panties, and went on with life ………….





“Don’t be afraid; Just believe” — Mark 5:36b

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