Oncology social workers help you cope with the emotional and practical challenges of colorectal cancer. Contact us at 800‑813‑HOPE (4673) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about counseling.
Learn more about how CancerCare Resource Navigation can help you address barriers to care.
Find resources and support to manage your financial concerns. Limited assistance from CancerCare® is available to eligible families for cancer-related costs.
Connect with others in our free support groups led by oncology social workers.
Learn about and view the full calendar of our free community programs.
CancerCare offers specialized programs to address specific populations and concerns.
Connect Education Workshops
Listen in by telephone or online as leading experts in oncology provide up-to-date information about cancer-related issues in one-hour workshops. Podcasts are also available.
- Advances in the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer, Jun 26, 2023
- What’s New in Precision Medicine, Jun 28, 2023
- Clinical Trials: How They Transform the Treatment of Cancer, Jun 7, 2023
- Addressing the LGBTQI+ Health Disparities Gap, Jun 16, 2023
- Understanding Diagnostic Technologies and Biomarkers, Jun 26, 2023
- Diverse Populations Participating in Decisions About Your Care With Your Health Care Team, Jun 28, 2023
- Advances in the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer, Dec 5, 2022
- What’s New In Precision Medicine, Nov 30, 2022
- Highlights from the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting - "Advancing Equitable Cancer Care Through Innovation", Aug 16, 2022
- Colorectal Cancer Treatment: Progress and Advances, May 16, 2022
- What’s New in Diagnostic Technologies for People Living with Solid Cancer Tumors, Dec 20, 2021
- Colorectal Cancer Treatment: Progress & Advances, Dec 6, 2021
- Highlights from the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, Aug 17, 2021
- Advances in the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer, Mar 8, 2021
- Highlights from the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting: Unite and Conquer: Accelerating Progress Together, Aug 18, 2020
- Progress in the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer, Mar 16, 2020
- Understanding How Health Care Disparities May Influence Your Cancer Treatment and Care: With Tips and Strategies to Find the Best Cancer Treatment and Health Care Team for You, May 15, 2023
- Current Perspectives on Cancer Survivorship, May 2, 2023
- Caring for Your Loved One with Cancer, Apr 3, 2023
- Understanding Diagnostic Technologies and Biomarkers, Jan 23, 2023
- Taking Your Pills on Schedule: Its Importance in Managing Cancer, Nov 9, 2022
- Eye and Vision Changes Related to Cancer Treatments, Aug 22, 2022
- Chemotherapy Treatment Side Effects: Prevention & Management, Jun 10, 2022
- Diverse Populations Participating in Decisions about Your Care with Your Health Care Team, May 23, 2022
- Clinical Trials: How They Transform the Treatment of Cancer, May 18, 2022
- What’s New in Precision Medicine, May 11, 2022
- Taking Your Pills on Schedule: Why It Is So Important in Managing Cancer, May 4, 2022
- Current Perspectives on Cancer Survivorship, May 3, 2022
- Managing the Side Effects of Immunotherapy, Apr 27, 2022
- Caring for Your Loved One with Cancer, Apr 25, 2022
- Understanding the Role of Immunotherapy in Treating Cancer, Mar 23, 2022
- Understanding How Health Care Disparities May Influence Your Cancer Treatment and Care: With Tips & Strategies to Find the Best Cancer Treatment & Health Care Team for You, Mar 21, 2022
- Emerging Importance of Telemedicine/Telehealth Appointments in Communicating with Your Health Care Team, Mar 16, 2022
- CAR T-Cell Therapy: What's New, Mar 15, 2022
- COVID-19, Omicron & Delta Variants, COVID-19 Vaccines & Booster Vaccines: Revised Guidelines for People Living with Cancer and Their Loved Ones, Feb 7, 2022
- Managing Eye and Vision Changes Related to Cancer Treatments, Jan 24, 2022
- Preventing, Managing & Treating Infection in Adults Living with Cancer, Oct 25, 2021
- Clinical Trials: How They Transform the Treatment of Cancer, Aug 25, 2021
- What’s New in Precision Medicine, Jun 30, 2021
- How Health Care Disparities May Influence Your Cancer Treatment & Care, Jun 21, 2021
- Caring for Your Loved One with Cancer, Jun 8, 2021
- Managing the Side Effects of Immunotherapy, May 26, 2021
- Understanding the Role of Immunotherapy in Treating Cancer, May 19, 2021
- What’s New in Diagnostic Technologies for People Living with Solid Cancer Tumors, May 17, 2021
- Taking Your Pills on Schedule: Why It Is So Important in Managing Cancer, Apr 14, 2021
- Update on Clinical Trials: How They Work, Apr 7, 2021
- Emerging Importance of Telemedicine/Telehealth Appointments in Communicating with Your Health Care Team, Mar 31, 2021
- Managing Eye and Vision Changes Related to Cancer Treatments, Mar 15, 2021
- Current Perspectives on Cancer Survivorship, Feb 9, 2021
- The 9/11 Community, Cancer & COVID-19, Jan 25, 2021
- How Diagnostic Technologies and Biomarkers Improve Treatment Decisions for People Living with Cancer, Dec 7, 2020
- What We Now Know about COVID-19: Revised Guidelines for People Living with Cancer, Nov 16, 2020
- Cancer and Flu Shots, Nov 9, 2020
- Caregiving for Your Loved One Living with Cancer, Nov 3, 2020
- Preventing and Managing Infections in Adults Living with Cancer, Oct 26, 2020
- Managing the Cost of Living with Cancer, Sep 23, 2020
- Veterans Living with Cancer, Jun 26, 2020
- Treatment Adherence: Taking Your Pills on Schedule – Why It Is So Important, Jun 24, 2020
- Understanding Diagnostic Technologies and Biomarkers, Jun 22, 2020
- What are Biosimilars? Understanding Their Role in Cancer Treatment: Current and Future Perspectives, Jun 18, 2020
- Current Perspectives in Cancer Survivorship, Jun 16, 2020
- The New Coronavirus (COVID-19): Emerging Guidelines for People Living & Coping with Cancer, Jun 15, 2020
- Managing the Side Effects of Immunotherapy, May 6, 2020
- Understanding the Role of Immunotherapy in Treating Cancer, Apr 29, 2020
- For Caregivers: Care Coordination for Your Loved One Living with Cancer and Other Health Problems, Apr 22, 2020
- The New Coronavirus (COVID-19): Updated Guidelines for People Coping with Cancer, Apr 20, 2020
- Caregiving for Your Loved One with Cancer, Apr 14, 2020
- Participating in Decisions about Your Care, Apr 8, 2020
- The New Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidelines for People Coping with Cancer, Mar 30, 2020
- Cancer and The Workplace: Understanding Your Legal Protections, Mar 25, 2020
- New Perspectives in Clinical Trial Research, Mar 20, 2020
- Understanding the Costs of Care and Your Health Care Coverage, Mar 18, 2020
- Trends in Oncology and Treatment Planning: What You Need to Know, Mar 4, 2020
- Managing Eye and Vision Changes Related to Cancer Treatments, Mar 2, 2020
- Taking Your Treatment on Schedule: Its Importance in Managing Cancer, Feb 26, 2020
- Care for Your Bones During & After Cancer Treatment: Tips to Improve Bone Health, Nov 18, 2019
- Preventing Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting, Oct 28, 2019
- Participating in Decisions about Your Care, Jun 19, 2019
- New Trends in Cancer Survivorship, Jun 18, 2019
- For Caregivers: Care Coordination for Your Loved One Living with Cancer and Other Health Problems, Jun 17, 2019
- Understanding the Costs of Care and Your Health Care Coverage, Jun 12, 2019
- Cancer and the Workplace: Understanding Your Legal Protections, May 29, 2019
- Managing Eye and Vision Changes Related to Cancer Treatments, Apr 15, 2019
- Joys and Challenges of Pets in Your Home When You Have Cancer, Apr 8, 2019
- Caregiving for Your Loved One with Cancer, Mar 19, 2019
- Current Perspectives on Cancer Survivorship, Dec 11, 2018
- Treatment-Related Rash and Dry Skin, Jun 20, 2018
- Mind Body Techniques to Cope with the Stresses of Cancer, Nov 15, 2017
- For Caregivers: Care Coordination for Your Loved One Living with Cancer and Other Health Problems, Jun 14, 2017
- Living with Cancer Throughout The Cancer Journey, Mar 10, 2017
- Managing Sensory Disruptions During Cancer Treatments, Dec 5, 2016
- For Health Care Professionals: Care Coordination for Older Men Living with Cancer, Aug 23, 2016
- Managing the Costs of Living with Cancer, Jun 8, 2016
- Nutrition and Healthy Eating Tips During and After Cancer Treatments, Feb 1, 2016
- What’s New in Managing Blood Clots During Cancer Treatments, Oct 30, 2015
- For Health Care Professionals: Care Coordination for Older Men Living with Cancer, Jul 14, 2015
- Healthy Eating and Managing Weight Changes During Cancer Treatment, Apr 13, 2015
- Highlights of the Affordable Care Act, Nov 11, 2014
- Managing Cancer Pain: What You Need to Know, Mar 21, 2014
- Young Adult Survivorship: Fertility, Sexuality and Intimacy, Jun 28, 2013
- Understanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for People Living with Cancer, Dec 12, 2012
- Managing Post-Treatment Neuropathy, Jul 17, 2012
- Recapturing Joy and Finding Meaning, May 15, 2012
- Planning Your Comfort and Care at End of Life, May 10, 2012
- Using Mind/Body Techniques to Cope with the Stress of Survivorship, Apr 24, 2012
- Nutrition, Physical Activity and You: A Guide for People Living With Cancer, Nov 15, 2011
- Fear of Recurrence and Late Effects: Living with Uncertainty, Jul 12, 2011
- Stress Management for Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself Physically and Emotionally, Jun 14, 2011
- The Challenges of Coping with Cancer and Other Health Problems, Jun 1, 2011
- Weight Changes After Cancer Treatment: Why is it Happening and What Can I Do About It, May 10, 2011
- Mouth Pain and Discomfort: All You Need to Know About Mouth Sores and Oral Mucositis, Apr 27, 2011
- Helping Children and Teens Understand When a Parent or Loved One Has Cancer, Apr 20, 2011
- Chemobrain: The Impact of Cancer Treatments on Memory, Thinking and Attention, Apr 12, 2011
- Survivors Too: Communicating With and Among Family, Friends and Loved Ones, Jul 13, 2010
- Communicating with Your Health Care Team After Treatment: Making the Most of Your Visit, May 18, 2010
- Trouble Sleeping? Sleep Better to Feel Better: Tips You Can Use, Apr 13, 2010
- Helping Teachers and Educators Support Siblings of Children with Cancer, Oct 8, 2009
- Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy, Jul 16, 2009
- Survivors Too: Family, Friends and Loved Ones - Managing the Fatigue of Caregiving, Jun 23, 2009
- The Importance of Nutrition and Physical Activity, May 19, 2009
- For Parents, Caregivers and Professionals: Helping Brothers and Sisters of Children Living with Cancer, May 14, 2009
- Dental Health During Cancer Treatments, Apr 24, 2009
- Managing the Stress of Survivorship, Apr 14, 2009
- Medical Emergencies in Cancer Treatment, Apr 1, 2009
- Balancing Cancer and Careers: Living and Working with Cancer, Mar 12, 2009
- For Caregivers: Coping with Holidays, Special Occasions and Birthdays, Throughout the Year, Dec 12, 2008
- Survivors Too: Family, Friends and Loved Ones, Jun 24, 2008
- Rediscovering Intimacy in Your Relationships Following Treatment, May 13, 2008
- The Importance of Communicating with Your Doctor About Follow-Up Care, Apr 22, 2008
- Finding Hope and Meaning After Treatment, Jun 19, 2007
- My Treatment is Over: Why Do I Feel So Alone and Sad?, May 15, 2007
- Neuropathy and Joint Aches: New Post Treatment Challenges, Apr 17, 2007
- Managing Your Costs of Recovery, Jun 20, 2006
- Balancing Your Needs and Your Role as a Caregiver, Jun 13, 2006
- Is It My Cancer or Am I Getting Older?, May 23, 2006
- The Bereaved Caregiver in the Workplace, May 10, 2006
- Stress Management Tips for Survivors, Apr 25, 2006
- The Challenge of Creating Supportive Work Environments for Employees with Cancer and Their Caregivers, Apr 5, 2006
Read or order our free Connect booklets and fact sheets offering easy-to-read information about the latest cancer treatments, managing side effects and coping with cancer.
- Treatment Update: Colorectal CancerNew
- Your Guide to the Latest Cancer Research and Treatments: Highlights From the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical OncologyNew
- After a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis: Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Colorectal Cancer: The Importance of Screening and Early Detection
- Colostomy: Finding Resources and Support
- Coping With Colorectal Cancer
- Your Guide to the Latest Cancer Research and Treatments: Highlights From the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
- Coping With Cancer: Tools to Help You Live
- Caregiving for Your Loved One With Cancer
- Talking to Children When a Loved One Has Cancer
- Communicating With Your Health Care Team
- Understanding and Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects
- Sources of Financial Assistance
- Finding Resources in Your Community
- If You've Just Been Diagnosed
- What Can I Say to a Newly Diagnosed Loved One?
- Advice for Caregivers: How Can You Help Yourself?
Every month, featured experts answer your questions about coping with cancer. View all questions and answers.
I was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and will have surgery and then a colostomy. I'm grateful that surgery is an option, but I'm struggling with the idea of having a colostomy. Any advice?A.
Adjusting to a cancer diagnosis can be challenging enough; adjusting to physical challenges that might come with it can seem overwhelming. It’s completely normal to wonder how you will manage. Seeking out information and support will help you to understand what to expect and how to best cope with change.
If cancer is detected in your colon or rectum, a colostomy is performed. A colostomy surgically creates a “stoma” or small opening in the lower abdomen through which stool can exit the body. Usually, the waste is captured in a small bag that is worn on the body and can be easily disposed of. While this procedure will have an obvious impact on your daily routines, keep in mind that you will still be able to do all the things you enjoy, including physical activities such as sports or gardening, and continue to live a full life with a colostomy.
To understand the impact a colostomy will have on you, talk with your doctors prior to your surgery about what you should expect before and after the procedure. It is also helpful to know the types of assistance and support available to you after your surgery. Ask to see an enterostomal therapy (ET) nurse, who specializes in ostomy care and rehabilitation.
Speaking with an oncology social worker or joining a support group where you can discuss your concerns and learn how others have coped and adjusted can be very useful. Connecting with others who have “been there” can be incredibly supportive and informative.
You can find additional information and support through The United Ostomy Association of America, which provides guidebooks, reference cards and brochures, as well as a message board where patients and caregivers can exchange information and answer questions. You can also find a local or virtual support group.
Remember that with any change comes loss. Give yourself time to adjust as you move into this next stage of your life.
After two surgical operations on my rectum and colon and receiving chemotherapy, I have numbness and reduced sensitivity in my fingers and feet. My doctors suggested Gabapentin, but it gave me problems with my sense of balance. Is there anything else I can do to lessen these symptoms?A.
The numbness and reduced sensitivity in your fingers and feet is called peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage that often results from certain chemotherapy treatments (e.g., oxaliplatin). It is sometimes referred to as the “glove and stocking sensation,” as it feels similar to wearing gloves or thick stockings on your hands or feet.
Certain medications can reduce the pain and annoying physical sensations that accompany neuropathy while the nerves repair themselves. Gabapentin relieves the pain of neuropathy by changing the way your body senses pain. It is meant to control your condition but will not cure it. Fortunately, there are several other types of medications for neuropathy, including anticonvulsants, antidepressants, local anesthetics, and opioids, that can be taken individually or in combination. Work with your doctor to find the right approach for you. Keep in mind that it can take one to two years or more for symptoms to go away completely.
Here are some tips that may help you manage and cope with the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy:
- Avoid drinking alcohol, which can damage nerves.
- Wear sneakers or shoes with “rocker bottoms” that allow the feet to roll while walking, provide better traction and can relieve some of the pressure on the soles.
- Remove throw rugs from your home to reduce the chance of slipping and falling.
- Rather than stand, sit down while doing activities such as drying your hair, applying makeup or preparing food.
- Use hand tools, kitchen utensils, and even toothbrushes and pens with wider grips, to make them easier to hold.
- If you have diabetes, manage your blood sugar level very carefully, as high levels can have a negative impact on nerves.
- Join a support group to learn how others lived with, and overcome, the challenges of neuropathy.
- Consult a psychiatrist, physical therapist, or occupational therapist who can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.
- CancerCare has several resources to help you learn more about living with neuropathy. Listen to our Connect Education Workshop podcast, Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy.
For additional help and support, visit the The Neuropathy Association’s website.
My mother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and I'm worried she is pulling away from those who care about her. I think it might be good for her to talk to others who've been diagnosed to get some guidance. Where should she go?A.
Your question is a good example of how a cancer diagnosis affects the entire family, not just the loved one who was diagnosed. Both caregivers and patients share similar challenges, although with different perspectives. Speaking with people in a similar situation can often be helpful. Many hospitals offer support groups, so I would begin your search by speaking with a hospital social worker who can let you know about available support groups. If you are having difficulty finding local face-to-face support groups or if traveling is difficult, CancerCare offers both telephone and online support groups for colorectal cancer patients and for caregivers.
There are additional organizations that offer support groups, information on how to connect with a local support group, or “buddy” matching programs:
- Colon Cancer Alliance
- American Cancer Society
- The Cancer Support Community
- United Ostomy Associations of America
We know that “one size does not fit all,” and it’s important to determine the type of support services most beneficial to the person in need. A support group can be helpful, and often individual counseling may be more appropriate. Introduce this information to your mom and allow her to ask questions and share her decision with you. And don’t forget to consider support for yourself. Our support group participants tell us they are glad they took the chance to connect with others, and report that they now have a greater understanding of their treatment, side-effects, options, medications, and emotions.
I'd like to meet people with colon cancer who understand what it's like, but I can't seem to find anything near where I live, just groups for people with any type of cancer. Can you help?A.
A cancer diagnosis can feel very isolating. Wanting to establish a caring community is a wonderful way to find support from other people going through a similar experience while at the same time reducing isolation. It is often difficult to find face-to-face groups specifically for people with colorectal cancer. CancerCare understands the importance of staying connected with others and offers colorectal cancer patient groups.
These groups are both informative and supportive. Group discussions cover a range of topics such as dealing with tough side effects, not wanting to be a burden to family and friends, having limited supports both emotionally and financially, being disappointed in family and friends to communicating with one’s medical team and where to find additional supports. Group sessions can be very serious but also can be light and humorous. We emphasize being compassionate and empathetic with all of our group interactions.
Please remember that you are not alone. CancerCare support services are there to help you.
I live in Queens, New York and my brother who has stage 4 colon cancer lives in Canada. I am one of his caregivers and he will be with me in New York for two weeks soon. Is there any way I can get counseling for him? He is depressed and has not coped well with his diagnosis.A.
It is very difficult to be a long distance caregiver. I can sense that you really want to be there for your brother but are finding it hard to know exactly how. Loss of control is something that goes hand in hand with a cancer diagnosis. Sometimes it even feels that the cancer is making the decisions. It is certainly making things more difficult. CancerCare has a staff of professional oncology social workers who can provide counseling and support to both you and your brother. Please call us at 800-813-4673 to schedule an appointment. CancerCare also offers online and telephone support groups specifically for patients and caregivers.
Caregiving is a heavy burden and it is easy to put your loved one first. But thinking about your needs as well will make you a better and more able caregiver. CancerCare offers publications on our website that will help you understand the demands of caregiving and how to be prepared and ready: “Caring Advice for Caregivers: How Can You Help Yourself?” and Caregiving for Your Loved One With Cancer. Another resource is our free Connect Education Workshop: Stress Management for Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself Physically and Emotionally.
Family Caregiver Alliance is an organization that focuses solely on the needs of caregivers. The Caregiver Resource Directory includes chapters about symptom management at home and the goals of care in progressive illness.
Another helpful resource is the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s publication, Advanced Cancer Care Planning: What Patients and Families Need to Know About Their Choices When Facing a Serious Illness, which may be downloaded from their website or ordered free of charge.
And finally, the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada website has many resources that could be helpful for your brother.
Where can I get free or low-cost colostomy supplies? I'm having a hard time paying my bills. Is there a place where I can call and talk with someone else who has a colostomy?A.
Adjusting to an ostomy can be difficult at first. With time, however, most people find them easy to manage and pain-free. Most hospitals have ostomy nurses who help with learning the steps needed to fit the appliance properly. These nurses may also be able to connect you with local resources for supplies.
Here are some resources that might be able to help:
- Friends of Man
- Osto Group (Must pay postage and a $10 handling charge)
- Convatec’s Ostomy Access Program: 800-422-8811
- United Ostomy Association of America: 800-826-0826
The United Ostomy Association of America can also connect you with peer-to-peer support as well.
Hopefully, these organizations will help with the cost of these needed supplies.
When should I be screened for colon cancer?A.
Screening is important because many colorectal cancers can be prevented through regular screening. Additionally, if cancer is found early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. Screening options for colon cancer include stool-based tests and an exam called a colonoscopy. It is generally recommended to start having colon cancer screening at age 45, regardless of gender. People at increased risk of colorectal cancer may start earlier, depending on your doctor’s instructions. It is important to talk to your doctor about your risk of colon cancer to determine the best screening plan for you.
Magnolia Meals at Home
A meal delivery program that helps patients by providing nourishing meals to households affected by cancer. Is currently available in and around Woodcliff Lake, NJ and Andover, MA, Raleigh-Durham, NC and New Haven, CT (as well areas in New York, New Hampshire and Boston, MA). For more information please visit magnoliamealsathome.com or contact Kathy Nugent, LCSW at 800-813-4673, ext. 6809.
Stories of Help and Hope
Read inspiring personal accounts from people affected by cancer and the ways they've found to cope.
- Whitney M., Caring for her husband with colorectal cancer
Browse all CancerCare services
For Colorectal Cancer
American College of Gastroenterology
CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation
Colorectal Cancer Alliance
ConvaTech Patient Assistance Program Ostomy Care
Fight Colorectal Cancer
Time to Screen
General Cancer Resources
American Cancer Society
Cancer Support Community
National Cancer Institute