Living with Bowel cancer

mrtuaIt can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of bowel cancer, both practically and emotionally. There are organisations that offer support to patients in this situation such as and for woman Look Good Feel Better makes a difference in the lives of NZ women with cancer.

It is very important to get the right information about your type of cancer and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens.

The two most common problems for patients during and after treatment are diarrhoea (passing loose stools) and urgency– when you need to go, you need to go now. Occasionally, surgery for very low rectal cancers can cause problems with incontinence, and you may experience leaking from your bottom too.  At the other extreme, other people find that they are now constipated.

It is important to manage your own expectation and be aware that it is unlikely your bowels will be exactly the same as they were before the operation. It might take a period of a few weeks or months to set into a ‘new normal’ routine and it’s important to be patient – however difficult this might be.
Some tips to avoid wind and pain

  • eat and drink slowly in a relaxed environment, taking time to chew foods well
  • eat at regular intervals, and don’t eat on the move or skip meals
  • don’t expect to get back to normal overnight – it will take time
  • drink water, little and often
  • avoid ‘windy’ foods such as beans, pickles and fizzy drinks
  • introduce spicy foods slowly
  • try charcoal tablets or peppermint water/tea, or peppermint oil capsules
  • take regular exercise.