Life after bowel cancer

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  • Hi Last December I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. I have since had surgery and 4 rounds of chemotherapy. On July 4 th I was given the all clear. So no more hospital appointments for me now until scan and colonoscopy in January. Emotionally I just got on with what needed to be done, coped and got through the chemo and have come through the other side. I am a positive person however now treatment is finished I am struggling emotionally, trying to get my life back on track but I worry so much that it’s going to come back. I have a very supportive partner/family/ friends but I don’t want to burden them with my worries all the time. 
    does anyone else have these anxieties? And If so, do you have any coping strategies you could share? Many thanks 
  • Hi  and welcome to this corner of the community. Most people who don’t have cancer will think it’s easy to ‘just move on’ with life once treatments are finished and you have the all clear……. but this can be far from the truth.

    I have been in my cancer journey for 23 years now (hit my community name to see my story), I have a rare incurable blood cancer……. although I am coming up to 6 years in remission……. You getting the smile…… as until Sep 2016 the longest remission period I had was about 9 months before I had to go back on treatment…… oh that was a hard 17 years.

    In the early days of my cycles of treatment remission treatment…… I learned to live in the moment, to enjoy every good day and during the bad days look for the positives as they could always be found.

    I know there is a very high chance of my cancer relapsing and indeed due to my treatments I am being continually monitored for skin cancer…….. but I am not going to allow the ‘what if’s?’ taken away any if the joy I have in not being on the treatment rollercoaster.

    As for thinking that you may be a burden on your family and friends… this is far from the truth. I always think that the person with the cancer often does not know the journey family and friends have to navigate……… believe me - they will not see you as a burden.

    There is a balance between moving on and the emotional reality of the journey. As a family we have a completely open forum, there is nothing hidden, no masks put on, we are all allowed pity parties but at the same time the party was only allowed to last one day as tomorrow was a new day.

    So what to do?

    First you will have seen this great paper After Treatment Finishes - Then What? mentioned. Dr Peter Harvey highlights the post treatment milestones……. Do read it through and come back with your thoughts on it.

    I would also recommend you think about letting your family and friends read it as it helps them understand what has to be navigated.

    ‘Talking’ with people can help so do check to see if you have any Local Macmillan Support in your area.

    Do also check for a local Maggie's Centre as these folks are amazing and for me they helped me through a lot during my dark times.

    We have two yellow post-its on our fridge……. I would think  they went up back in late 2013 when my condition become aggressive.

    The first says

    ‘Today is a new day….. yesterday has gone. What pulled us down yesterday is now the foundation to build on today’

    The is another says

    ‘The anxiety train is always sitting in the station....... but we can only get on it if we go to the ticket office and get a ticket....... don’t go in the queue and get a ticket’

    My amazing Specialist Cancer Nurse of many years talked about the anxiety train early on in my diagnosis and treatment.

    To be totally honest and this will sound very simplistic, some would even say naive..... I/we learned very early on in my 23+ years living and being treated for my cancer was that I/we could throw ALL the worry and stress I/we could collect in the world at each situation and all this effort would actually make no difference what’s so ever to what I/we were told and what may happen in the future....... but will have a big effect on how I/we will mentally deal with it ‘if’ it comes along. park the stress, worry when you actually have something concrete to worry about and look to do things that you enjoy and live and live life - you have worked hard for this moment.

    Sorry this is long but I had a good sleep last night Joy

    Always around to chat.

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

  • Hi, , we all worry!! Please take time to read the paper  has highlighted. It really sums things up, and you may like to give it to your friends and family to read. I gave it to my boss. Take care, someone is usually around to rant to!

  • Hello Jellytot! :) I also had Stage 3 bowel cancer, 4 rounds of chemo - finished mid-Sept and have the joys of a colonoscopy in January too.

    I realize your post was 3 months old - I've just read Peter Harvey's paper which really helped.  I'm also incredibly positive usually but have days of feeling low or alone.  My coping strategies have been to enjoy multiple cups of tea and homemade carrot cake and every day I go out for a 1/2 hour brisk walk - no matter the weather.

    I'm battling low energy in the afternoons due to the chemo.  I do realise I'm not the same person anymore.  I ticked all the boxes for colon cancer, was overweight, sedentary job, didn't exercise, had a pint of cider most days, ready meals, lots of sugar, hardly any fruit or veg and possibly genetics.  By changing my diet, exercising, only working so many hours in the day instead of 12-14, these are all the changes that I can do and resting when I get tired.  I feel about 30 years older than I am at the moment and I cannot concentrate on more than one thing at a time.

    Are you having yearly scans for the next 4 years?  So to me that is a relief that if it does come back it will be caught.  I can't do anymore than that.

    Wishing you all the very best. Laura

    1. Hi Laura. Yes I have a scan and colonoscopy due in January. 
      Carrot cake sounds a good call, I might have to try that. I am feeling mostly positive. And just trying to get on with life. But nothing is quite he same anymore. However I am getting out there and ticking off a few things on my imaginary bucket list. It’s got to be done. And I certainly am not taking anything for granted.
      keep on doing what your doing. We should be proud of ourselves for being where we are.
      kind regards Michelle Kissing heart