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Tips for Family and Friends of People With Colorectal Cancer

A person with colorectal cancer is not the only one affected -- family members and friends are also influenced by changes in a loved one's health.

Here are some tips to help you or family and friends cope with a loved one's diagnosis:

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About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of anal cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions. Reviewers and Updates This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial...

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  • Feel free to ask the doctor questions if you accompany your loved one to his or her appointments.
  • Be prepared for changes in your loved one's behavior and mood. Medications, discomforts, and stress can cause your loved one to become depressed or angry.
  • Encourage your loved one to be active and independent, as much as possible, to help him or her regain a sense of self-reliance and confidence.
  • Be realistic about your own needs. Be sure you are sleeping enough, eating properly, and taking some time off for yourself. It is hard to offer much help when you are exhausted.
  • Don't hesitate to ask other family members and friends for help. They will appreciate the opportunity.

Family members and friends of a person coping with colorectal cancer may also find themselves under a great deal of stress. To reduce your stress:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
  • Learn to relax.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 21, 2014

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