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Your feelings and bowel cancer

Men and women discussing bowel cancer

This page is about some of the feelings you may have when you have bowel cancer. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Your feelings and bowel cancer

When people first find out they have bowel cancer they may feel a range of emotions. All sorts of feelings are likely to come and go. Your family and friends will probably have strong feelings too.

You may feel isolated and find it difficult to talk to people. It is not unusual to feel embarrassed about having cancer of the bowel or rectum at first. Our bowels and going to the toilet are very private matters for many people. It is up to you who you tell.

There is a lot of support available. You may find it easier to talk to someone outside your immediate family and friends. You could find a support group or join online support websites like Cancer Chat.

It is quite common nowadays for people to have counselling after cancer treatment. To find out more about counselling, look in the coping with cancer section. Or you could contact our cancer information nurses.
 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the living with bowel cancer section.

 

 

How you may feel

Most people feel shocked and upset when they first find out they have cancer. They may also feel

  • Numb
  • Frightened and uncertain
  • Confused
  • Angry and resentful
  • Guilty

You may feel some or all of these feelings. Or you may feel totally different. Everyone reacts in their own way. Sometimes it is hard to take in the fact that you have cancer at all. Feelings are a natural part of coming to terms with cancer. All sorts of feelings are likely to come and go. Your family and friends will probably have strong feelings too. Look in our coping emotionally section for detailed information about the feelings you may have when you find out you have cancer.

You may feel quite isolated and find it difficult to talk to people. It is not unusual to feel embarrassed about having cancer of the bowel or rectum at first. Our bowels and going to the toilet are very private matters for many people. But the staff at the hospital or clinic are very used to talking about these things and so you don't need to feel embarrassed. It is up to you who you tell and who you decide to talk to.

 

Who can help

There is a lot of support available, including your

  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Specialist doctors
  • GP
  • Practice nurse
  • Social worker

Do contact them if you have any problems or concerns. Many other people have gone through similar experiences, so you may find it helpful to join a cancer support group. It can help to be in touch with someone who has been through what you are going through. Our bowel cancer organisations list has details of organisations who can give you help, support and information.

There are also web based forums for exchanging experiences, such as Cancer Chat – Cancer Research UK's online discussion forum.

Getting support from other people can give you comfort and also practical ideas.

You may find it easier to sort through your feelings with the help of someone outside your immediate family and friends. Trained counsellors can help. Our section about counselling tells you how it can help and how to find a counsellor in your area.

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Updated: 12 September 2013