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Colorectal Cancer: Advanced

Emotional Issues

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Living with advanced cancer takes a heavy toll on everyone including spouses and significant others, family and friends.

A pity party every now and then is understandable. Just don’t let sadness take over your life. We don’t have to tell you how precious each minute is and how few of them there are – even in a very long life.

Do not allow emotions to keep you from exploring all medical options available to you, getting a second medical opinion, and moving forward with treatment.

If emotions get in the way, speak with your doctor or a mental health professional who is experienced in working with people with a life changing condition.

Feelings To Anticipate

People who live with advanced colorectal cancer report the following. For a discussion about these feelings, and tips for dealing with them, see the documents in “To Learn More.”

  • Fear that can sometimes border on terror.
    • Fear can show up in a variety of areas, such as fear of death, fear of going through different, stronger and more damaging treatments or fear that the people closest do you will abandon you.
    • There can also be fear of an ostomy, whether the fear is warranted or not. Keep in mind that IF you will need an ostomy, today there is nothing that an ostomate (a person with an ostomy) cannot do. No one can see an ostomy under your clothes and there is no longer any smell.
  • A feeling of unfairness that this is happening to you. You may even find yourself wishing that other people would get cancer as well.
  • Anger – at life, at the universe, at God or another higher power, perhaps even at your oncologist, at the waste of time and energy for everything you did to help prevent disease. Anger can show up in the form of frustration in daily activities and with the people around you.
  • Depression.
  • Feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Grief and a sense of loss over such subjects as:
    • The loss of the feeling of health and well being you had prior to finding out about the recurrence.
    • The loss of the future and the opportunity to do the things you’ve planned on doing
    • The loss of relationships which ended
    • The loss of career opportunities you had to forego to have treatment.
    • All the other losses you’ve suffered in life.
    • The shaken, or entire loss, of faith in the medical system
  • A loss of trust in the medical system in general or your oncologist in particular, and perhaps your ability to make a reasoned medical decision or to rise to the challenges.
    • Weariness about facing treatment all over again.

Some people even contemplate suicide without realizing it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Friends, Family and Caretakers

While your main job at this point is to focus on yourself and getting the medical care you need, give consideration to the needs of the people around you, particularly your team of caregivers.

If they need help, suggest they speak with a mental health professional, join a support or self help group, and/or make contact with someone else similarly situated. Your doctor, his or her team or a social worker at the cancer center can likely make the connection.

The Holidays

If the holidays are approaching and you are having a difficult time emotionally related to colorectal cancer, learn how to cope by clicking here.

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