Living with colorectal cancer

Having the right psychological support is extremely important for everyone living with colon cancer, and colorectal cancer is no exception, both during treatment, and in the rehabilitation period that follows. Good psychological support from family and friends will let the patient get back to normal life as quickly as possible.


If a colostomy has been performed, many difficulties can be avoided if the patient's close social circle is aware of the situation. Patients may feel embarrassed by their new status, and their colostomy bag, if they have one. It is natural to want to hide this from everybody. The family should try to avoid any taboo developing about the nature of the surgery, and talk freely about the situation. However, it is understandable that the patient would feel inhibited about revealing their body, and it is a personal decision whether to undress at the beach or the swimming pool.

Relationships and sexuality in colorectal cancer

The diagnosis of colon cancer is a difficult time. Feelings of blame and guilt may be projected onto other members of the family, and children are especially vulnerable, setting in motion feelings of profound frustration which may even sometimes lead to depression. There is a major risk of setting up a vicious circle, in which the patient's intimate circle is distanced, just when the patient most needs support.
The principal advice from a psychologist or relationship counselor would be to not lose hope. The majority of patients with a colostomy don't re-establish their sex life until six or eight months after the operation, but having a colostomy bag doesn't mean that a satisfying sex life is gone forever. Partners need to be patient, and above all maintain trust and communication. Love and affection are very good for  physical health, and touching and caressing an important factor in the patient's recovery of their own self-image. 

For further information: Ostomyguide

Last updated: 1/27/19

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