Colorectal cancer, otherwise known as colon cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Jamaica. Colorectal cancer is a disease in which the cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control.
Statistics from the Jamaica Cancer Society reveal that Jamaica recorded 642 new cases of colon cancer in 2018, while 373 persons died from the disease.
Each year, the month of March is recognised as Colorectal Awareness Month, a period which is designated to bring awareness to the importance of screening for colon cancer and leading a healthy lifestyle to prevent the risk of developing the disease.
For many people living with colon cancer, it changes their physical appearance and also their daily routine. For some, it may even affect their friendships and relationships. This then leaves many patient’s with the million-dollar question, how do I cope with colon cancer?
Seek medical help
It is important for colorectal patients to maintain a good relationship with their physicians to talk about different treatment options and what to expect from the treatment.
The treatment journey for colon cancer can be a tedious process for some people, however, speaking to a medical professional can help to make the process a bit smoother because patients will know what to expect beforehand and therefore condition their minds for such treatment.
It is important to let your physician become aware of any challenge that you may have before treatment in order for them to make the process less tedious for you.
Talk to your partner
The treatment process not only affects your physical appearance and how you feel inside but it can negatively impact intimate relations with friends and your partner.
It may affect the way in which you socialise with family and friends. It may also affect intimate relations with your significant other.
Sexual intimacy may be altered after treatment. Men can experience low testosterone levels after treatment while women can experience premature menopause after treatment. It is important to discuss these possible symptoms with your partner who can offer moral support as you go through the treatment phase.
Get adequate rest
From the moment you are hit with the harsh news that you are diagnosed with colon cancer to the treatment phase, it can be a tiresome process for both patients and family members.
It is not uncommon for colon cancer patients to experience sleep disorders, whether due to stress or an adjustment to the treatment they are undergoing.
Nonetheless, the benefits of getting a good night’s rest are many. Getting adequate rest can help to improve your quality of life by helping your body fight cancer.
Ensure you maintain a sustaining diet
Colorectal treatments such as chemotherapy sometimes result in a loss of appetite and weakness. It is important to speak with your doctor to discuss any changes in your diet and possible ways to improve your eating habits.
Foods such as proteins can help the body repair tissue and cells while vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants that can help fight cancers.
Maintain a positive attitude
Colon cancer is not a death sentence, therefore it is important to maintain a positive attitude during the treatment process. Take life one step at a time.
The journey with colon cancer can be stressful and discouraging for many patients, however participating in support groups with patients who share similar experiences can offer moral support and serve as a driving force to overcome colon cancer.