A diagnosis of colon cancer is life changing – for you and your loved ones. When you heard the words, "You have colon cancer," you may have felt anger, denial, fear, confusion and depression. You may have even started bargaining with a higher power for a cure. These feelings are the natural hallmarks of author Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ "stages of grief."
There is no right or wrong behavior or feeling when you hear those life-changing words. But there are ways to start advocating for yourself and your family.
In the past, it was perfectly acceptable to sit back and rely on your family doctor to help you through any medical issue, from removing a hangnail to birthing a child. Today, more Americans are trying to educate themselves to prevent or cope with disease.
If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer, are helping a loved one or just want to find out more information about colon cancer, there are many organizations that provide free resources for people like you. Their services promote awareness about symptoms, help people through treatment and decrease the risk of recurrence.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the largest cancer-fighting organization in the United States. In 1937, the NCI held its first meeting as the National Advisory Cancer Council; the NCI has been researching and developing cancer treatments ever since. The NCI has more than 5,000 investigators working daily on cures for cancer, developing 1,300 trials every year.
NCI toll-free hotline: 800-4-CANCER.
The Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) provides a comprehensive list of online communities fighting cancer together, Internet mailing lists and reliable web-based support.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) began in 1913 with a handful of physicians and businessmen in New York City. They saw an opportunity to start educating the public about cancer. Today, the ACS can provide online, telephone and local support, resources, education, treatment options and trials for colon cancer.
ACS toll-free, 24-hour hotline: 800-227-2345.
ACS Hope Lodges: 800-ACS-2345
Fight Colorectal Cancer is a nonprofit colorectal cancer advocacy organization operating out of Washington, DC. They offer a free "newly diagnosed" kit, quarterly newsletters, webinars and education through their website.
Fight Colorectal Cancer toll-free answer line: 877-427-2111.
The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) works to spread information about colon cancer to bring an end to this disease. The CCA hosts telechats, webinars, local chapters and a buddy program that provides education and support for people in the fight. The CCA sponsors fundraisers, such as the Undy 5000, to raise money for colon cancer screening and research.
CCA toll-free helpline: 877-422-2030.
The National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) was co-founded by Katie Couric, Lilly Tartikoff and the Entertainment Industry Foundation in 2000 to continue the fight against colorectal cancers. The NCCRA provides information about colon cancer screening, research and prevention.
NCCRA toll-free: 800-872-3000.
CancerCare Inc. is a nonprofit agency that provides support and education to cancer survivors and their families. You can find support groups, information about colon cancer, workshops, newsletters and links to trials on their site.
If you have questions or concerns about your insurance or medical coverage and are receiving Medicare services, you can contact the Medicare Hotline at 800-633-4227. If you are not a Medicare recipient, consider contacting the Health Insurance Association of America, online or at 800-879-4422, to discuss healthcare insurance related concerns.
If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about hospice and palliative care, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHCPO) is a great place to start. They have a comprehensive website or they can be reached at the NHCPO toll-free hotline: 800-658-8898.
The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship is an organization for survivors led by cancer survivors. This organization provides education and support about living with cancer and the daily challenges faced by the people in the fight. They can be reached at 877-622-7937.
Most important, don’t forget your best resource – the medical professionals in the fight with you. Ask your doctor about local support, education and resources. He or she will be able to point you towards peer-reviewed, quality information about colon cancer.
American Cancer Society. (2006). American Cancer Society’s Complete Guide to Colorectal Cancer. Clifton Fields, NE: American Cancer Society.
American Cancer Society. (n.d.). NCI Stages of Grief for Cancer Patients and Their Families. Cancer Survivor’s Network. Accessed January 22, 2012.
American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Our History. Accessed January 12, 2012.
National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Mission. Accessed January 25, 2012.