You are here: Home Colorectal Cancer Post Treatment 0 ... Colorectal ...
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Colorectal Cancer: Post Treatment 0-6 Months: Emotional Well Being: Stages 0,I


The first six months after treatment for colorectal cancer may be emotionally difficult - even if the  disease stage was 0 or I. In addition to the sense of joy and elation that your cancer was caught early and eliminated, there is also likely to be anxiety and possibly depression as questions surface such as  “What’s next?", "How can I stay healthy?", “What if it comes back?” It may take a while before your confidence begins to feel real and your fears are somewhat relieved.

No matter how closely you return to your former emotional baseline, very strong fears are likely to surface before medical appointments.

Do not be surprised if you feel overwhelmed. Take a moment at a time.

Keep in mind that thoughts about what is best may change over time.

To help cope, consider the following time tested ideas, 

Give yourself a break.

Expect a range of emotions.

  • It is common to feel anxiety about whether your cancer will come back. This is known as "fear of recurrence." It is also known as the "Damocles Syndrome" because of a feeling that there is a sword hung by a thin string over your head just like Damocles. This is particularly to be expected when a medical checkup is scheduled or you get physical symptoms such as a cold.
  • Tears may flow at unexpected times for no apparent reason. Sadness and depression are not unusual.
  • It is not unusual to feel out of place or alone in a world of healthy people. It is likely that colorectal cancer caused you to look at death, perhaps for the first time. The experience may have changed your perspective and what is important to you.
  • There are likely to be a large number of people you haven’t told about your experience with the attendant stress which comes from keeping a secret.
  • People don't give you room. People who do know about what just happened expect you to be joyful and happy about eliminating cancer.
  • The prospect of each doctor’s appointment and test can bring up major anxiety.
  • It may take a while to heal emotionally.
  • Will you ever feel "normal" again? Yes. In fact, many people report that their lives feel even more full after living through a cancer experience because of a new value on each moment.
  • Expect to feel anxiety before upcoming appointments or tests.
  • For information about the emotions and feelings that may surface, and what to do about each of them, see: Anxiety, And How To Cope With It, DepressionDepression: What It Is And What To Look ForEmotional Well Being, Fear, Fear Of RecurrenceGuiltLonelinessPanic Attacks And What To Do About Them, StressHow To Cope With Waiting

Think about The Meaning Of The Experience.

Express Feelings: Consider Finding A Colorectal Cancer Buddy, Joining A Support Group. Write. Do Art. The best way to get through this period is to express your feelings. There are a variety of ways to do that.

  • Family and Friends
  • Colorectal Cancer Buddy
    • Consider talking with another person who is going through the same thing you are or who has been there. We call such a person a Cancer Buddy.
    • You can find a cancer buddy through your cancer doctor, cancer support center or such disease specific nonprofit organizations as Colon Cancer Alliance, Tel.: 877.422.2030
  • Support Groups and Self Help Groups
    • Consider talking with other people in a similar situation in a support group or a self help group. In addition to the support, you are likely to learn practical information.
    • The group can meet in person, on the telephone or even on line. Support groups have been proven to be good for emotional health, and possibly even physical health.
  • You can find colorectal cancer support groups through the following groups which are listed in alphabetical order:
  • If you are a young man or woman, other sources include:
  • Writing And Creative Activities
    • Many people find comfort in being creative or by writing their thoughts or creating art.
    • Writing doesn't have to be in a bound journal. It can be on pieces of paper you keep in a file, or on your computer.
    • You don't have to share your writing or other means of expression with anyone to get a benefit.

Religion And Spirituality

  • Colorectal cancer brings an awareness of mortality for most people. Suddenly life seems as short as it is - no matter how long it is.
  • If you haven't done so already, turning to religion or spirituality can help. Most clergy people will speak with you even if you do not belong to their congregation or religion.
  • This may be a time to renew your connection with a religion or spiritual practice. If you are not sure how to proceed, shop around. Talk with friends. Read. Speak with clergy in different houses of worship. Speak with clergy in different religions if you are open to a change.
  • NOTE: Especially during the first year after treatment, it is not unusual for anxiety and fear of recurrence to surface before doctor appointments and while waiting for test results. This type of anxiety may continue for a very long time. There are techniques available to help you through these periods.

Consider Previous Coping Mechanisms  A few examples of what has worked for other people may help trigger thoughts about what has worked for you in the past:

  • Kristy irons naked.
  • Jamie cleans when she starts to feel overwhelmed by emotion.
  • Terri created a corner of her home that felt sacred. Such a apace may only have a candle or some fresh flowers. She spent about 10 minutes a day being there - taking deep breaths, giving herself pep talks, and saying prayers.
  • Use whatever strategy or strategies which have helped you get through life.

When To Seek Professional Help

  • Talk with a professional mental health therapist who has experience working with people after cancer treatment if any of the following happen: 
    • You feel like you're getting stuck emotionally.
    • You have trouble sleeping.
    • You are frequently teary or upset for no reason.
    • Your weight continues to fluctuate.
    • You lost interest in your usual activities and friends.
    • You fixate on your cancer experience.
    • You think you need it.
  • Check your insurance to see if mental health is covered. If it is, what are the limitations and restrictions?
  • NOTE: Especially during the first year after treatment, it is not unusual for anxiety and fear of recurrence to surface before doctor appointments and while waiting for test results. This type of anxiety may continue for a very long time. There are techniques available to help you through these periods.

Do Something Life Affirming

  • People who have lived through colorectal cancer suggest doing something life affirming such as planting a tree, or perennials in the spring, or bulbs in the fall.
  • Start a project that will take a long time to complete.
  • Some men and women even go back to school. (You cannot be discriminated against because of your health history. To learn more, see: Americans With Disabilities Act). offsite link provides college scholarships to current and former cancer patients.

Decide How To Define Yourself

  • It becomes important how you define yourself. The word "survivor" means different things to different people. The word(s) you use help you process what has been happening and where you are. The word(s) also help define you in the world. Keep in mind that you are a person who had colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer was and is not your life. It is not your life today. You are not your disease.
  • If you need help, consider speaking with a professional therapist, or a clergy person.

Consider Getting A Pet

  • Studies indicate that pets are good for your emotional health. As noted in our medical care section, pets may possibly even be good for your  physical health.
  • The pet doesn't have to be a dog or cat. Look for a pet that fits your lifestyle and budget. Pets 101 not only tells you how not to get sick from your pet, it also includes such practical information as how to travel with a pet and whether to get pet insurance.

Please share how this information is useful to you. 0 Comments


Post a Comment Have something to add to this topic? Contact Us.

Characters remaining:

  • Allowed markup: <a> <i> <b> <em> <u> <s> <strong> <code> <pre> <p>
    All other tags will be stripped.