When I was leaving the hospital, no additional information was given to me in terms of support networks once I had gone home. I took it upon myself to find these out. I think this is a very important step that may be overlooked by some people. As soon as I got home I made an appointment with my local doctor. He was able to provide me with information on cancer and passed me onto the clinic’s nurse. The nurse was fantastic. We sat down and talked in length about how the diagnoses was affecting me and what services we could put in place to help. We decided on making appointments to see a dietitian and a continence nurse. She made sure that I had all the necessary support frameworks in place.
I also jumped online to see what support I could get from other organisations. Here I found The Cancer Council Australia and Bowel Cancer Australia to be amazing. The Cancer Council provides all sorts of information on a range of different cancers. Everything from legal aid, medical research, terminology and explaining the different stages and processes of cancer. As the name suggests, Bowel Cancer Australia focuses on bowel/colon cancer. They provide recipes, advise, forums and nutritional information. I found that their nutritionist service was outstanding. I could call her and talk about what type of diet I am to be on and she would explain what types of food I should be eating and how these foods are working to help me. This is an invaluable service and completely free.
Although the dietitian visits are only free for a short time, I found them very useful. It allowed me to take the information that the nutritionist had given me in order to fine tune a diet that would suit. Initially I was on a high fibre diet, however with my bowels becoming more blocked I was switched to a low fibre diet. The dietitian helped to create an appropriate diet.
Unfortunately I don’t have any local cancer support groups in my area, but I did find one that was 45 minutes away. I have only been to one session so far, but it was great. We discussed naturopathy and cancer along with many other topics. It’s also a chance to meet other people that may be going through a similar journey. I will keep you up to date with how my meetings go in the future.
It seems as though everyone is on Facebook these days, and I am no exception. People at the support group suggested that I look up cancer groups on here, something that I hadn’t thought of before. Upon searching I found some really great groups. One in particular was created for bowel cancer patients and their supporters in Australia. This site is unbelievably supportive of each other and love to help each other in times of need. I was bombarded with support when I introduced myself and instantly felt like part of the group. Since joining I have asked numerous questions and each have been answered truthfully and with respect. I felt at ease to be able to ask others about my upcoming procedures and to know how they recovered from theirs.
Although I was a bit surprised that minimal information was given at the hospital, I was happy to find that, with a little research, help could be found. It’s also important to remember to think local. There are some fantastic National organisations available, but local doctors, nurses and support groups can offer a more personal approach which makes your feel less isolated. Asking for help is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of, it’s a part of life that cancer sometimes forces you to take.