Overcoming the Isolation and Loneliness of Young-Onset Cancer


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No one told me I would feel this lonely. I had an army of supporters around me, but I still felt stranded, alone, stuck at the bottom of an abyss.

I was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer at the age of 39. At the time, I was enjoying the prime of my life: I had my career as a doctor, a happy marriage, and two beautiful children — everything to live for. I didn’t look or feel unwell, either. And yet, cancer came knocking on my door and turned our lives upside down.

I underwent two major surgeries, including a stoma formation and reversal (which required the use of a stoma bag) and chemotherapy, and found the whole process completely life-changing in every respect.

What I realized early on was how isolating the whole process is. Despite all the support, texts, visits, phone calls, flowers, cards, presents, and well wishes, I felt that people couldn’t quite comprehend the enormity of each hurdle. And why should they? Unless they had trodden a similar path, it would be very difficult to have that level of empathy.

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