Bowel cancer treatment and side effects

You can find lots of useful information about bowel cancer treatment on our website. You can also get information and support from our Ask the nurse service.



I had a stage 3 tumour with some spread to lymph nodes, after chemo it reduced to stage 2 tumour and a lymph node. I’ve had chemo radiotherapy and I’m having a scan next week. I’m getting really anxious as next step is surgery and a permanent stoma. I live alone (most of the time) and wondered if anyone can advise on recuperation. How long will it be before I can manage my housework, dog walking etc?

Liz Blakelands

@jan67 I live by myself and had a lower abdominal resection with temporary loop ileostomy for rectal caner over 4 years ago. I was 62 at the time and fit and healthy, other than the tumour. My sister came to look after me for about a week after I came out of hospital. It was really good having my sister staying because the first few days by the time I had got up, sorted out the stoma and got dressed, I needed a nap for a few hours. If you can have someone come and stay for a few days after your discharge that's a good idea. But if you can't it is doable but you would need someone to walk the dog and do bits of food shopping. Online grocery shopping is great.

I did have a cleaner for about 2 months after my op. Could have managed without but I figured why spend the energy you have doing housework when I preferred to walk the dog.

The recovery time for everyone is different but it is a major op and you need to rest and recover with gentle exercise. You cannot lift anything heavier than a 1/2 full kettle for about 6 weeks.

If your dog pulls on the lead, invest the time now in training because you do not want a dog pulling you after the op. I think most dogs will sense that something has happened and my own dog was very gentle around me. He did decide that he didn't want to sit next to my stoma side when on the settee with me.

Make sure you have some easy meals in the freezer. I had a really old heavy ironing board which I decided had to be replace with a much lighter model.

I know about 4 weeks after the op I was walking about 2 miles a day. You do have to listen to your body and not over tire yourself.

The stoma gets easier and faster to deal with after a week or so and before you leave hospital the stoma nurse with show you how to look after it. The supplies for the stoma get home delivered by the specialist suppliers.

The fitter you are before the op the better your recovery so for now keep exercising and eat a good health diet.

Good luck and a speedy recovery
Liz :x::x:


Thanks Liz, that’s really helpful. I don’t have anyone to come and stay but I can ask friends and neighbours to help.
I’m having scans next week and meeting the stoma nurse :x::x: