Experiences of living with advanced colorectal cancer from two perspectives - inside and outside

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2011 Dec;15(5):390-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2010.11.004. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


Purpose: To investigate how life situation by persons with advanced colorectal cancer and their partners is affected by living with the disease and its treatment.

Method: Separate, individual interviews were made with persons with advanced colorectal cancer (n = 12) and their partners (n = 9) about how their daily lives were affected by the disease and its treatment. The verbatim transcripts were analysed using content analysis.

Results: Living with the illness of advanced colorectal cancer was experienced to be: being inside or outside the healthcare system, striving for normality and becoming conscious of life's value and vulnerability. Living as a partner was experienced as living in an altered relation and as living in the shadow of the disease.

Conclusions: When one in a partner relation suffers from colorectal cancer, it changes life and life perspective for both partners. Partners need to be invited to and involved in the care. Cancer nursing should focus on supporting the strive for normality in daily life, as the disease and its' treatment may last for a longer period of time. Supporting the partner may benefit the person with cancer as well, to cope along the illness trajectory.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Spouses / psychology*