It’s happened. The doctor has said the dreaded C word. For many people, this is their biggest nightmare come true. A thousand thoughts, questions and worries will be swirling around your head. This is to be expected, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone.
Every year, nearly 43,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer. More than half of these people will go on to live more than ten years in remission. This can be you, too!
There’s thankfully endless support out there for you. For extra support, here are some ways you can navigate your new cancer diagnosis.
Let it out
It’s essential not to bottle up your feelings. Pushing down feelings of anger, fear, or hopelessness will only make you feel worse. While it can help at the time, eventually, all those suppressed feelings will come spilling out.
The best way to avoid this is to talk with others. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your friends and family. If you feel isolated, you can join a local support group. These groups can be in person or online, depending on your preference. At these meetings, you’ll meet people going through all the same thoughts, feelings, and treatments, which can greatly help alleviate feelings of loneliness.
Plus, there are always counsellors or therapists to talk to if you need professional help. You can go to these privately or seek help through the NHS.
Understand your condition
One of the scariest things about cancer is its mystery. There is no known cure, and it affects everyone differently. One of the best ways to prepare for this road of uncertainty is to understand everything you can about your condition.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or specialist questions. Ask what stage your cancer is, what this means, and what the best course of action is. Ask about your treatment options and research into each. Fully understanding your condition will not only help you come to terms with your situation, but it will give you a sense of control – helping with common feelings of hopelessness.
Preparing for the future
Everyone has a vision for how their life will go. We all have an idea of a timeline with important events in our heads. But, sometimes, life has other plans for us.
It’s better to prepare for every outcome so you’re not surprised. Sometimes, people with bowel cancer require surgery. This can mean many survivors will continue their lives with colostomy bags. In addition to physical changes, you might have to stop working for a while. This can lead to financial worries and more. It’s better to be prepared for these outcomes so you don’t have to worry about them down the line.
This is far easier to say than do. During this time, finding things to stay positive can seem few. However, trying to keep a POA (Positive Mental Attitude) can benefit your well-being during this turbulent time.
The best way to stay in this mindset is by surrounding yourself with positive people. Negative people will only encourage the dark thoughts to fester. Focusing on achievements, no matter how small, can also help. Most of all, be kind to yourself. You’re going through a lot, and giving yourself some credit can’t go amiss.
You’ve got this – even when you don’t think you do!