Love, cancer and communication

Bowel Cancer Australia

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Talking about cancer can be very difficult, even with people you know and love.

How do you have a conversation about a life-changing illness with someone who doesn’t know how it feels to receive a cancer diagnosis?

How can anyone else begin to understand how it feels to experience the treatment you’ve had, to suddenly find that you are no longer as independent as you would like to be or to have concerns about how you are going to get back to ‘normal’ again?

The challenge is equally real for loved ones, who often stand by wanting to help but not knowing how.

Diagnosed in early 2015 with Stage 3 bowel cancer, Gary Lewis wrote the book A Chemo Affair exploring the complex and challenging familial, medical and personal interrelationships a bowel cancer diagnosis can present.

Loosely based on his own bowel cancer experience, Gary tells the story of a man diagnosed with bowel cancer and the impact that has on him and his wife, as well as the influence the couple’s relationship has on his illness.

“The idea sprang from a belief that love is a highly evolved expression of positive thinking, which is generally regarded as beneficial in the fight against cancer,” said Gary.

Gary wanted to write a book for others living with or beyond bowel cancer and their loved ones, and share what he learned about how the disease and personal relationships can become intertwined.

In the story, he tells of a wife who feels anxious, exhausted and overwhelmed by her work and caring for her husband; and her husband, a bowel cancer patient who feels “useless and lost in a chemo-fog”, preoccupied with survival and tired of telling his wife he’s sorry.

If you are feeling very low and vulnerable, speaking with someone who understands what you are going through may be an important part of the recovery pathway.

Whether you or a loved one has been affected by bowel cancer, Bowel Cancer Australia is here to help.

Patients and loved ones have called the Bowel Care Nurses a ‘lifeline’ and have said the Peer-to-Peer Network helped put them in touch with people who they could really talk to because they’d been there too.

For more information about out how Bowel Cancer Australia can support you, visit bowelcanceraustralia.org, or call 1800 555 494.

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