What happens next?

Bowel Cancer Australia

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It can take a while before a person feels like their old self following bowel cancer treatment.

Bowel Care Nurse Fiona recommends taking plenty of time to recover and creating a one or two-year plan to get back on your feet.

“It’s important not to worry yourself or rush yourself through recovery.”

Some days you may feel that you are recovering well, but other days may be a struggle, leaving you feeling low.

After the regular contact of treatment, you may feel isolated and lonely, as if you’ve been abandoned.

Many people talk about a feeling of ‘the circus leaving town’ in the days and weeks after active treatment finishes.

As your family and friends return to their own daily routines, it can be hard for you to fit back into your old life and you may start to reflect on everything that has happened to you.

Everyone is different, but some specific worries seem to be more common for people who have had treatment for bowel cancer and it is important to recognise them.

It takes time to learn how to manage with changed bowel habits or a new stoma for example.

For a lot of people, worries about being away from home and not being able to find a toilet in time, or what to wear for fear of leakage or their stoma bag showing, can prevent them from going out or meeting with friends.

Differences in the way your body feels and works since treatment often bring on changes in how you look and feel about yourself.

It is very common to worry about how your partner or those closest to you will react, especially if you are conscious of scars, a new stoma, or perhaps surgery that has dramatically changed how your body looks now.

It helps to be patient and go gently on yourself.

Gradually, as you recover your strength and the side-effects of treatment ease, you will begin to get back to your everyday life.

After the shock of diagnosis and the demands of treatment, it can be a relief to be feeling more normal.

At some stage, it is likely you will begin to feel more normal again and will start to look forward to a more comfortable and health future.

However, mixed feelings are common.

The psychological recovery process is very individual and can take much longer than the medical side of things.

“I never dreamed I’d have bowel cancer. I was young, living a healthy life with no family history, but it can be beaten and you can return to a normal life post-treatment. STAY POSITIVE!” – Sarah, 41

For information and ideas on how to deal with the array of emotions and feelings frequently reported following bowel cancer treatment, download our Support, Care & Recovery: Living with Bowel Cancer booklet from our website or call 1800 555 494 to order a free copy.

Remember, you are not alone.
Over 15,000 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year. To speak with a
To speak with a Bowel Care Nurse call the Bowel Cancer Australia Helpline on 1800 555 494 (Monday – Friday from 10am – 3pm), or contact them online

Visit Bowel Cancer Australia's Bowel Cancer Stories: In My Own Words webpage, to read stories from bowel cancer patients and their families.

If you are interested in being buddied up with someone who has been affected by bowel cancer in a similar way, visit Bowel Cancer Australia's Talk to a Buddy: Peer-to-Peer Bowel Cancer Network webpage, to find out more about the community.
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