• erburns' Avatar
  • erburns' Avatar

    erburns asked a questionColorectal (Colon) Cancer

    Is it typical for some diagnosed with cancer to want to deal with it on their own? How do you support them?

    • abrub's Avatar

      He's hurting and terrified. Ask if you can go to either his appointments with him or for some couples counseling. He needs you, but is trying to hide from the horrors he foresees. It sounds like he's hiding from himself while he thinks he's just hiding from you.

      See if he'll join the ACS Cancer Survivors Network Colon Cancer discussion group. Lots of people there have had colostomies, and are doing well. It isn't the end of the world, tho it certainly can seem that way.

      over 10 years ago
    • mamajltc's Avatar

      My husband has had a colostomy bag for over 2 years...it is not bad at all...my best advice is to make sure he seeks a colostomy nurse, a specialist. But from a 'lay person'...here is what we use. There are plenty of companies out there, but we have found that Byram is the best for our needs...they are wonderful. We buy precut flanges (the piece that goes on the body, and holds the bag)...they are we bit more expensive but so worth it. I don't know what other companies make the products, but we have found Hollister to be great. At first, I had to help him change his bag, but now he does it with ease. It is something we seldom think about anymore,,,and have found out that many people have it.
      Please ask any question you might have...I don't have all the answers, but I do know that it was something that at first was frightening but am so grateful for.
      I have found that the key to living with cancer and people you love, is communication. It is so tough sometimes because this illness can be so mentally exhausting...go out to a place you like to be..a restaurant, a park, a walk...and talk. And listen. I promise you, things happen without even being planned. And please know that you and he are never alone...and please, always choose..Hope :)

      over 10 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      When I found out I had rectal cancer last summer, I had been dating someone for about 4 or 5 months. The very first thing I did when the tumor was found was to break up with my boyfriend. I just had to deal with the situation myself and I knew I was going to have an ileostomy and I couldn't imagine ever being intimate again. I had a good support system of friends so I wasn't alone in my journey. I just couldn't handle being in a relationship and deal with everything I had in front of me.

      I'm about 8 months into my treatment and I am still grateful that I am not dating anyone. The journey takes sooo much out of you and it's an effort some days just to get out of bed. Putting the effort into making a relationship work is just too overwhelming for me. I need a lot of rest and knowing no one is relying on me or wants to spend time with me makes it easier for me to just go home after work sometimes and just collapse on the couch for the night without a care in the world. I just don't think I could do that if I was in a relationship. Sometimes my friends come over and I want them to just go home. It's work to entertain even the best of friends even if they are not expecting me to do anything.

      I would give him some space and e-mail him in a few weeks after things are sorted out a bit better. It is terrifying to go through cancer treatment, especially one that changes your life and your body image so much. He may just need a good friend right now without the stress of a relationship.

      Good luck to you. When he's ready to start dealing with the journey in front of him, there are lots of resources and support here.

      over 10 years ago
  • erburns' Avatar

    erburns asked a questionColorectal (Colon) Cancer

    I'm in need of some advice. If anyone is willing to read my story and provide some words of encouragement, it would be the greatest thing

    5 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      Thats what we're here for, just lay it out and everyone will share. I have been through this 3 times and I am still here and doing pretty good if that's any encouragement to you. Let us know what we can do.

      over 10 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Dear erburns:
      I read your story with great interest. I don't know if I will be encouraging or not, but I would like to share two life stories - two stories with similarities but which are startling in their differences. The first is the story of my cousin, a good man, great husband, provider, intelligent with an important high-tech job. He was 60 when diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was married, no children. He lived to work. He kept his cancer a secret from his wife for 5 years, believing that she couldn't handle the stress, etc. In his final year, it became far too obvious that he was sick and couldn't hide it any longer from his wife. His last 6 months were spent in bed at home, with a wife who didn't have time to adjust to the reality, was so busy feeling sorry for herself that she didn't have the strength to help him and who resented that he had kept his cancer a secret. They were not happy those last months and she has yet to move on though it is nearly two years since he passed. He left a life insurance policy which she soon spent on a lot of "stuff" to try and make her happy.
      The second story is about a friend of mine, a young women about 28. Her husband had brain cancer, diagnosed when he was about 30 after they had been married for about 5 years. A young couple without children, they lived their lives for each other. Both had good jobs in the high-tech industry and planned on a family until his cancer interrupted their plans. They went through his cancer journey together, with her helping him every day. The last year of his life was spent mostly at home with her caring for him. She was sad when he died but stronger for the experience. And she made his last months as comfortable and happy as was possible. Because he was employed with a good company at the time he died, he left a great deal of life insurance (over half a million) and she used some of it to start scholarships in memory of her husband.
      We don't know what course cancer may take and how the journey may unfold. All I have learned is that this is a journey that should not be taken alone. Please stay close to your boyfriend. Staying close actually makes it better, easier in the long run, even if the result is inevitable. Tell him it won't be easier on you if he pushes you away now. First of all, if he fights, he may survive. Living without a colon is still living. How many of us are living without breasts, or organs, or who knows what all? We are still living and that's the point. Tell him that you need to live through this with him, no matter where it leads. You both can do this together, far better than either of you can deal with this alone.

      over 10 years ago
    • DJS's Avatar

      I'm not sure if erburns is still folllowing this, but if you have a similar situation this might help you.

      In 1998 I was told I had a genetic kidney disease, and somewhere down the road I'd be needing a transplant. I told only the people who needed to know (3?), and went on with my life. I was in my early 40s, single, great life and great health (well, except for my kidneys!), and it didn't seem real to me.

      Later that year, after all those years of wishin' and hopin', I met Mr. Right. Around Date #3 I realized this could get serious and he deserved to know about my health before we got too involved. He responded appropriately, but truthfully neither of us had experience with anything like this, and when you're falling in love everything else seems unimportant.

      A few months down the line Mr. Right asked me to marry him. I said no -- my health situation made my future too uncertain, and it didn't seem fair. Without missing a beat he told me he was going to be there anyway...and he was! In fact, I even have his kidney now! He was right -- if you love someone, friend or not, you're going to be by their side while they go through health crises, bad times, happy times...the works.

      We've been together through the transplant, through a lot of other crises, and now cancer. And you know...it's all been a Big Deal, but it doesn't define us. In fact, maybe we're so close because we know what's important -- us -- and what's not (we don't sweat the small stuff!).

      Illness or not, it's always something. Better to enjoy whatever you can -- like a new love in your life -- than focus on what might or might not be. Go for it, whatever 'It' is. True love, like true friends, will be by your side no matter what surprises life has in store.

      over 8 years ago
  • erburns' Avatar

    erburns shared an experience

    Decision Point: On March 15, Mark was told my doctors that he had three options: to do nothing, to have his remaining colon cut out, or to continue with chemotherapy in hopes something would change. That night Mark told me he thought we should stop seeing each other in a romantic way, and try to just be friends. He said it would make it easier on me, and him, in the long run and that he thought he needed to do this alone. He askedme not to wait for him, because he wasn't sure he'd choose an option where he had a future. I couldn't do anything but nod, as tears poured down my cheeks. Seeing the man you love break down is one of the hardest things I think I've ever witnessed. And I can only hope that he will put his stubbornness aside and deal with having a colostomy bag if it means saving his life. If anyone has any advice on what I should do, I'd love to hear it. I don't even care if we end up together in the end, I just want him to be healthy nd happy.

    1 Comment
    • kleslied's Avatar

      Cancer is tough on your side, now that I was diagnosed with breast cancer I know both sides of things which in no way makes me an expert but I do understand things I didn't before. In his heart he probably believes he is sparing you more pain by keeping you at a distance, while you probably feel like you are losing precious moments and memories you could have. There are no right answers for this, I spent every moment I could caring for my mother who died of cancer in 1989, it took over my life and consumed me which was her fear. Now I see what she was telling me because I worry about people in my life doing what I did or it having the same effect as I experienced. No matter what, ultimately it is their decision to make and I wouldn't stop them and that is not a selfish side of wanting to be cared for but from one that knows every memory you can make with someone you love you will carry with you forever.

      over 10 years ago
  • erburns' Avatar

    erburns shared an experience

    Drug or Chemo Therapy (Chemotherapy): Mark was told that yes, his colon cancer was back but that it looked good. The doctors worked with him to provide a route to recovery that wouldn't interfere with his work. He was put on the chemo pills, and while he was tired and constantly sick he still worked his normal 20 hour days. I came home almost every weekend to be with him, to just lay with him. By the end of January, the cancer hadn't gotten any bigger but it hadn't gotten any stronger. They doctors decided to hit Mark with a hard chemo treatment to see if it improved. It didn't. So back on the pills he went.

  • erburns' Avatar

    erburns shared an experience

    Celebration (Meeting Mark): In June 2011, I met the love of my life. Mark and I were both in my cousins wedding, and it just so happened my cousin and her now husband were trying to set us up. However, nobody really thought it would work; I was a 22 year old about to start my senior year in college and avoided my small, farm hometown at all costs. Mark is a 26 year old owner/operator of a family trucking company, and was too busy to sleep let alone date. But I drunkenly hit on him, and it took off from there. I decided to stay an extra while at home instead of go back to school, and we started seeing each other whenever we could. We talked every day, met each others family, he even let me ride in the truck with him a few times. When August rolled around and it was time for me to leave for school, we made promises to see each other often i.e. me mainly coming home since he worked on the weekends too. But I was okay with that; I'd only known him two months and he had changed me; I was a better person because of him. By October, I knew he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.