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  • Shared Experiences

    My husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer this morning. How are we going to cope?

    Two years ago my husband began experiencing a change in his bowel movements. Painful wind and alternating constipation and diarrhoea. A friend told him that these symptoms sounded similar to hers prior to her being diagnosed as gluten intolerant. He stopped eating gluten and his symptoms eased. He also started to lose weight fairly quickly. Being obese, we thought this was a good thing.

    My 28 year old husband has had this thing growing inside him for over two years and we only discovered this today after a new GP requested a colonoscopy because he did not think everything added up.

    My husband is scheduled for surgery in two weeks. The tumour was too big to biopsy well. He had a CT scan this afternoon and now we play the waiting game to find out if it has spread through the colon wall.

    I am struggling to get through these overwhelming waves of fear and anger and sadness that hit me like a tonne of bricks whenever I have a second to myself to try and process.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Hazel Rayner

    HealthShare Member

    hi mrs hegarty, first off keep breathing, long slow breaths. I know how it feels.I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in mid 2010. it was T3 which means it had gone into the wall of my rectum and involved lymph nodes. At first I thought I was doomed to die, the over whelming feeling takes your breath and senses away from you. My advice is take it slowly, get all the fact and ask you doctors what do we now for the best outcome.I was told my cancer was probably doing me damage for 5 to 10 years. i too had toilet problems but we pu it down to menopause!!

    I had 6 weeks of radio therapy while at the same time was hooked to chemo therapy 24/7, since then I had a temperary illipstomy, more chemo, then i had the illiosomy reversed.
    It is a long haul if your husband has to go through this .

    I am 58 and female and I stuck it out with the great support of my husband. there are times when the unknown is worse then the known.
    Just wait and find out what the doctors plans are. He is young, which is all the better for him, i was not. the specialist know what they are doing, there are protocols for all the different types of bowel cancers.
    Just hold on to each other and prepare for a bumpy ride, get you lives in order and lighted your stress loads as much as you can.
    IT IS SURVIVEABLE but it takes some inner stregnth and some good specialist.Get the best advice  you can.
    I realy feel for you both , remember there is an end to it all but it can take time.
    Look at it this way, there are no problems just solutions, it helped me stay on top of it.
    Also talk to each other properly and get help if you need it, i did. All the very best Hazel

  • MrsHegarty

    HealthShare Member

    Hi Hazel,

    Thank you for you words of support and sharing your experience with me. He has since received his diagnosis as Stage 3 cancer of the large bowel. He had a right hemicolectomy two weeks ago and seems to be recovering well. He will have his port inserted after the Easter break and start chemo two weeks from today. The prognosis seems very positive, which is a relief. 

    It is going to be a hard year, but unless we both just roll over and die the only option is to get through it.

    Hope you are doing well.

    Mrs Hegarty

  • Dr Sarah Visser

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr. Sarah Visser is a registered clinical psychologist who specialises in adult individual therapy. An experienced practitioner in a variety of areas such as depression, … View Profile

    It is understandable to feel worried and fearful when a family member is diagnosed with a serious illness. Concerns about how you will cope are very normal. You may feel uncertain about what this diagnoses means for your husband and the type of treatment it will involve.
    When accessing medical care you may consider writing down any questions you have in advance as well as the doctor’s response. Most people have difficulty taking on a lot of new information in these situations and writing down important details you would like to remember can help you to feel informed. It can also help to try to stay focused on the here and now, rather than entertaining “what if” thoughts, that are usually helpful and worrying.

    During these times it is important that you and your husband talk about your concerns together, while also accessing your support systems such as family and friends. You may need to tell people who care about you how they can best help and support you and your husband.

    Now may be a time to limit other stresses in your life (if possible) and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle so your body can cope with the stress you are facing. If you have thoughts or feelings you feel unable to discuss with your husband or support network, you may benefit from seeing a psychologist or counsellor.


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