Living with cancer is a challenge. Only you can decidehow to best cope with your cancer and treatments, andhow to manage your daily life. You will feel better if youparticipate actively in managing your disease.

In addition to the medical aspects of cancer, you will have to cope with many differentemotional, psychological and practical issues. You may need to make decisions aboutpriorities that you would not otherwise have had to make.

This section includes coping techniques that many patients have found useful, as wellas resources to find the help and information you need.

Putting Statistics in Perspective

Many published statistics are outdated because they are based on older methods oftreating cancer. In addition, statistics indicate only how groups of patients respondto a particular disease or treatment; they cannot predict an individual’s response.You want to know what your chances are, but it is best not to let a positive attitudebe negatively affected by statistics which really have nothing to do with you.

To better cope with your cancer, focus your mental and emotional resources in a positive way.

Coping with Treatment

It may seem difficult, but it’s best to acknowledge, experience and talk about howyou feel. You may prefer to talk to family, friends, a member of your healthcare team or other patients in a support group. A support or self-help group can be a goodplace to talk with others who have dealt with similar problems, to learn how they arecoping and to share your feelings and experiences.

You may also wish to talk with aprofessional counsellor, such as a psychologist, to help you deal with your emotions.Most people find that they cope with their illness better if they have good emotionalsupport. Seek the emotional support to suit your needs.

Techniques to lower anxiety, such as meditation or relaxation, may help you cope withyour cancer journey. Several programs are available to help teach you how to bettercope with stress such as our Cancer Coach Support Program.


Cancer doesn’t only touch your life, but also the lives of those around you. Sharingyour cancer experience with others may make some relationships grow stronger andcause some others to become strained or even dissolve.

Most people are supportive and caring when they learn that someone close to them has cancer, although others may have difficulty dealing with their own emotions. Theymay respond by withdrawing, by blaming you for having cancer, by making insensitiveremarks such as “be grateful it can be treated,” or by giving you unwanted advice.

Their reactions may hurt you or leave you angry at a time when you need support.People who respond this way do so because of their own fears, not because theydon’t care. Choose who you wish to tell about your diagnosis. Having someone elseyou can talk to can be helpful and even energizing.


Cancer can affect people at any stage in their lives. Each stage has its special concerns, and you might find it useful to talk to people your own age.

Young people are often concerned about the effect of cancer on completing theireducation, establishing a career, dating, social relationships and starting a family. Middle-aged individuals often find that cancer interrupts their career and makes it more difficult to look after others who depend on them, such as children or agingparents.

Older patients may worry about the effect of cancer on other health problems, about not having enough support or about losing the opportunity to enjoytheir retirement.

It is important to deal with your concerns and come to terms with them. You canfind a support group specifically for patients with colorectal cancer and share similar experiences.


Although hair loss does not occur as a result of all treatments for colorectal cancer, you may experience short-term changes such as loss of hair, dry skin, brittle nails, a blotchycomplexion, and hand and foot syndrome. The Look Good...Feel Better program teaches women with cancer how to deal with their physical appearance.


Tiredness is a common side effect that may limit what you can accomplish on anygiven day. Consider whether you can continue working or going to school full-time.Set priorities. Pace yourself and listen to your body. Stop and rest when you aretired.

Complementary/Alternative Therapies (CATs)

Meditation, relaxation and visualization often help patients with cancer to lowerstress and anxiety levels, and maintain a positive attitude. There are many differenttypes of therapy that promote relaxation. Your healthcare team or support group canhelp you find workshops that teach these techniques. Exercise is also important toreduce stress and frustration. Experiment with different techniques or activities to find what’s best for you and what helps improve your feelings of well-being.

You may also be interested in experimenting with “natural” medicines, vitamins,herbal remedies or other unproven therapies advertised as cures for cancer. Usingthem may make your cancer therapy work less effectively — unproven treatments have not been scientifically tested and may contain unknown products or additives that may conflict with treatment prescribed by your healthcare team.

To make certainof the most effective treatment, discuss with the members of your healthcare teamyour interest in CATs prior to taking them, especially during treatment.