Psycho-oncology (UK) Information & Help

    Resources for organizations, health professionals, patients and families relating to psychological aspects of cancer care

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Colorectal Cancer - Patient Narratives (c)
Discovering you're ill: Symptoms and diagnosis
Image She delayed taking up her GP's referral for further tests because she was frightened.
Image Having seen a consultant once she was reluctant to go again.
Image Lists the reasons he invented to explain his symptoms.
Image He describes his classic symptoms and his GP's response.
Image She realised what was wrong when she saw a piece about bowel cancer on television.
Image She saw two GPs in the same practice who kept giving her the same tests.
Image He feels his GP did not make good use of his family history and medical records.
Image He urges people to seek advice early and to insist on further tests if no convincing diagnosis is made.
2. Treatments, side effects and recovery: Decision-making and information needs
Image He wished his surgeon had told him what he wanted to do rather than expecting him to choose.
Image She wanted a second opinion because she lacked confidence in the first surgeon she consulted.
Image He felt he received excellent information before surgery.
Image He went to his consultation well-prepared with questions.
Image He was confused by his surgeon's explanation of his coming surgery.
Image He was admitted as an emergency case and was offered no explanation of what had happened for days.
Image She remembers her fears before the first of many cancer operations.
Image She stresses the need for people to be offered detailed information before surgery.
3. Decisions about chemotherapy
Image Describes how she decided to have chemotherapy.
Image He feels that making a list of the pros and cons of chemotherapy makes the decision obvious.
Image Her decision to have chemotherapy was connected to her gratitude to her medical team.
Image Continued with chemotherapy to help reduce his wife's intense worry about him.
Image She had to choose a course of action that would suit her as a new mother.
Image She feared that chemotherapy would leave her infertile until an alternative drug was proposed.
4. Stoma: Sexuality and relationships
Image She had received information about sex for stoma patients but was too ill to be sexually active.
Image Her partner's supportive attitude helped her overcome her fears for their relationship.
Image For this woman and her husband, resuming their sexual relationship was part of the healing process.
Image Describes how his stoma affected him psychologically and reflects on how it might affect others.
Image He preferred to avoid sex until his stoma could be reversed.
Image Having decided to avoid sex until his stoma could be reversed, he had to reconsider when the reversal proved impossible.
5. Support groups and organisations
Image Feels that sharing experiences of stomas is invaluable to new stoma patients.
Image Wishes she could attend a support group specifically for colorectal cancer patients.
Image Describes the support group she attends in East London.
6. Talking to children & families about cancer
Image Describes how she prepared her young son for seeing her in hospital.
Image She regretted her decision not to tell her children she had cancer.
Image He has decided not to tell his son about his illness.
Image She explains how she has prepared her children for the possibility of her death.
Image She tried to minimise the disruption to her childrens' lives.
Image He reflects on the impact his illness has had on his two teenage daughters.
Image She has an intellectually disabled son and considers what might happen if he is ever screened for cancer.
7. Talking to health care professionals
Image He found it impossible to question his doctor even though he is a doctor himself.
Image He wished he could get all his consultants together at one time to discuss treatment options.
Image He remembers his two consultants arguing over his treatment.
Image Her consultant's way of breaking the news helped her feel confident about treatment.
Image He felt safe in the hands of a surgeon who spoke frankly.
Image Having an approachable GP and surgeon meant a lot to her.
Image Lack of effective communication between hospital departments made his experience more difficult.
Image Contradictory instructions added to his frustration in hospital.
Image Reflects on why it is often difficult communicating with doctors.
Image She explains the need for patients to take an active role in meeting their own health information needs.
Image A sympathetic visit from his surgeon helped him after the attempt to reverse his colostomy failed.