Life with bowel cancer


Struggling mentally

My sister has an unusual form of rectal cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). When she first found out she was adamant that she would not have "a bag". Yes that's pretty adamant and found it distressing to hear her say it, but have, so far, not had to cross that bridge as she has been given radio and 2 x chemotherapy. Physically, she has had to put up with some tough stuff (as cancer sufferers unfortunately do) and is still bleeding every time she has a motion, which is all to frequent. She is hardly eating anything, partly due to not being able to get it down and partly so that she doesn't poo as much. Encouragement and cajoling are beginning to help, but the part I'm worried about more is her mental state. She won't discuss her "illness" and has banned all signs (cards, flowers etc.) She had a panic attack when the nurse visited her last and so now she won't have anyone in. She won't even call to ask for advice. She won't discuss her panic attacks and she's dreading having to see the consultant on 13th April. Sorry this post is so long, I was just wondering if anybody has any advice or ideas on the matter. Thanks in advance


Hi @Lavenderblue and a very warm welcome to the forum. I hope you’ll find this a friendly, informative and supportive place.

This sounds like a tricky situation for you as the sister. There is a relative to relative section if you’d like to pop in there too to say hello?

I don’t know but I’m guessing that your sister has been very recently diagnosed and is struggling in processing this news and coming to terms with it? Everyone deals with a cancer diagnosis in their own way. Some are very open and vocal wanting everyone to know and others much more private and only sharing with their very nearest and dearest.....and anything in between! It might be a good idea to mention the bbc/bowel cancer UK charities to her and also the forum. She won’t need to sign up if she doesn’t want to. Ideally, you may be able to persuade her to talk to someone else e.g friend/ relative, GP, specialist nurse or perhaps a support worker or counseller at a Maggies centre if you have one nearby? You hanpvnt mentioned if she is in a relationship and if so, has she opened up to her partner? I’m sure you’ll need to tread very carefully and not bombard her with advice and suggestions too. It’s a very difficult situation for you and one where you might want to access support for yourself too?

Anyway, these are just a few of my initial thoughts after reading your post. Will you let us know how things go?

Sending you all my very best wishes,



Thanks for your reply. It seems that she doesn't mind talking to me (the practical one) or my other sister (just chats about every day things) but struggles with talking to our 92 year old mother who obviously is very worried, but doesn't know when to stop pushing her ideas. She no longer wants to talk to a nurse or anyone else really. She is married and her husband is finding it hard to cope with the way she is mentally, but he has a huge load on his plate apart from his wife being ill, so I'm trying to help him too. She was diagnosed just before Christmas and started her first round of chemo and radiotherapy mid January. 2nd round of chemo and radio now finished about 3.5 weeks ago. Seeing consultant 13th April. Fingers crossed. Will keep you informed
D xox


It sounds positive that she’s talking to you and your other sister @Lavenderblue so hopefully that will continue. It might just be that she needs time but you’ll know her best.

I hope you all find a way forward for your sister and her husband which suits them best and are able to continue to offer her the support she needs. It’s not easy is it?

Sending lots of love and strength to you all,



Hello @Lavenderblue wishing you and your sisters all the best, hope you find a way forward with your problems xxx.


Thank you for your good wishes. Just to give you an update. Her bleeding has more or less stopped and that, in turn, has improved her mental health no end. It was her birthday yesterday and she was quite happy to receive visitors etc. whereas if that had been only a week ago, it would have been a very different story. Strangely, after I had reassured her that nobody dies from having a panic attack, she started to approach the whole thing more logically. Also I have found out on here what are the best things for her to eat etc. and now she is trying to consume 5-6 tiny meals a day, that has improved her bowel function too. So all good for the time being. Just waiting for her to see the consultant on 13th next month and see how well the treatment has worked. Fingers and toes crossed! xox


I’m glad things have settled down a bit for your sister @Lavenderblue.

I hope all goes well for the appointment on the 13th. Will you let us know how it goes if you can?

Sending lots of good wishes to you both!