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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.

Thankfully, a diagnosis of rectal cancer is not what it used to be. Major medical advances have been made. New medical advances happen on an almost daily basis.

While people tend to associate rectal cancer with the need for a colostomy, the need for colostomies on even a temporary, much less a permanent basis, has been drastically reduced. For those people who do need a colostomy. products are much better than they used to be and there are tips to keep it from interfering with even the most intimate aspects of daily life.

As you may already have assumed, even if the cancer is eliminated, life will never be the way it was before a diagnosis. Instead, there is a new normal in just about all aspects of your life. A new normal requires information to navigate through well. The purpose of this Guide is to help navigate your way through the medical, financial, insurance, work, government benefits, emotional, estate planning, and day-to-day issues.

The subjects to think about in each area are covered in other documents which we recommend that you read in the following order. After reading a document, click on the back arrow on your browser to return to this page. Alternatively, you can sign in and then bookmark this page.  (If you haven’t registered yet, see “Register” in the upper right hand corner of your screen).

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, break the subjects of immediate concern into doable steps.

1. Start with "The Basics"  which describes an attitude generally adopted by the most successful survivors. Not incidentally, it can help you feel more in control and less powerless.

2. Read about managing your medical care  which provides a primer on navigating the medical system. It covers such subjects as the tests that may be recommended to help determine an accurate diagnosis, available treatments, and how to choose the most suitable doctor(s) and treatment facility. Unless treatment starts immediately after a decision is made, learn about steps to take between making the decision and the actual start of treatment by returning to this document and clicking here.

3. The next most important subject to consider is how to pay for your medical care while maintaining your lifestyle.

  • If you have health insurance, our introductory insurance document provides an overview about how to maximize use of your coverage so you get the care you need, when you need it, at the least out-of-pocket cost. Finance  helps you figure out how to pay for both your share of the costs as well as your current lifestyle and financial obligations.

  • If you don't have health insurance:

    • Uninsured  provides practical information about getting medical care at the lowest cost.

    • Finance  helps figure out how to pay for medical care as well as your current lifestyle.

4. Learn how to stay in control of your medical care even if something happens and you become unable to speak for yourself and keep control of your assets by reading Planning Ahead.

Every treatment and every drug has risks. Before starting treatment is the perfect time to get your affairs in order so you are covered if something happens that you can’t speak for yourself or even if you die. The necessary legal documents are easy to obtain and can be completed at low cost or for free.

5. At least skim through the summary of each of the following categories in whatever order works for you. You’ll get ideas that are geared to help make your life better and to avoid unnecessary, unpleasant, surprises.

While information can help you feel in control, too much information can also be overwhelming – particularly now. If this starts to happen, take a break and return when you’re ready to learn more – or ask someone else to review a particular subject for you. Keep in mind that family and friends want to help. (We even have information about how to ask family and friends for money as a loan or a gift if necessary).

NOTE: You can find information on our site about specific subjects through a variety of alternatives:

  • The category bar at the top of each page.
  • Search in the box in the upper right hand corner of each page.
  • The table of contents which is also located in the upper right.
  • When you start treatment, read our document listed in “To Learn More” about being “In Treatment.” As your place on the spectrum continues to change to post treatment, etc., read the appropriate document listed in “To Learn More.” Jumping ahead can be overwhelming.