Speak to a registered nurse.
Call the Beating Bowel Cancer Helpline
(9-5:30 Mon - Thu, 9-4 Fri)

020 8973 0011

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Hidden Heartache

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Hidden Heartache: the untold story of bowel cancer

Hidden Heartache Message Wall


Abandoned, helpless and with nowhere to turn. Just some of the words used by patients and their families and friends to describe the impact of bowel cancer.


Show your support for patients, families and friends affected by bowel cancer by posting on our message wall and share your experience.

Hidden Heartache Message Wall

Bowel cancer doesn’t just affect those with the disease, but thousands of family and friends – leading to sleepless nights, fear, loneliness and even relationship breakdowns.


To better understand what you go through, we commissioned a landmark research project to help shine a spotlight on the impact of bowel cancer on patients and their families and friends.


Our ground-breaking study  shows the hidden heartache of bowel cancer for the first time. Almost 700 patients, family and friends took part in our research, sharing with us the often harrowing details of their experience of living with bowel cancer. Patients and families kept moving diaries to give honest accounts about the issues they face.


Families and friends, in particular, didn’t feel their support and information needs were met.

The report shows that only 66% of family members and friends felt they were given the information and support they needed whilst trying to support their loved one through treatment. This drops to 55% when trying to help with after-effects.


Perhaps most shocking of all only 27% felt they received enough support following the death of their loved one.


Melissa Cutting, who supported her husband Chris through bowel cancer for 18 months before his death said: “There are some aspects to caring that you really can’t discuss with anybody – or there certainly were in my case – particularly near the end when the cancer was ravaging his poor insides and I was trying to keep our young family together, all over Christmas time.  Not even my family knew the things that I had to face but I think I would have been able to talk about it more openly with somebody else who’d been in my situation.”


Steve Guy, whose wife Wendy died of bowel cancer in 2015, said: “It’s a very lonely place because you really don’t know what to expect and there isn’t much help and support for partners at all.


“Nobody is talking to partners, nobody is taking you aside and saying this is what’s going to happen; this is what your loved-one is going through or anything like that. No one is looking after us.”


While it is only right to focus on supporting people with bowel cancer, it’s vital not to forget family and friends. Bowel cancer might be a dark cloud hanging over people, but with the right support and information, we can help relieve fears and anxieties.


We want to be here for everyone affected by bowel cancer – whether you’re going through it or supporting someone who is.


To make this happen, we need your help. And we need it now.


We’re going to raise £100,000 to help support more patients, families and friends and expand our services.


Here’s what we want to do:

  • double the number of people we support, reaching many more family and friends as well as patients
  • have a designated Beating Bowel Cancer nurse for family and friends
  • expand our online forum and develop new areas for relatives and friends
  • produce new information, including a booklet focused on families and friends
  • run a “Family and Friends Day” – like our Patient Days but dedicated to those supporting a loved one.


Please donate and help us ease the heartache of bowel cancer.


£100 could fund a place at a Family and Friends or Patient Day.


£50 could cover the cost of our online forum for a day where patients, their families and friends can get answers to their worries and concerns, day or night.


£25 could cover the cost of a call to our helpline, where a patient or their loved one can get specialist support from one of our dedicated bowel cancer nurses.


£10 could cover the cost of ten Family & Friends booklets, providing anxious loved ones with everything they need to know about supporting a bowel cancer patient.


Donate now


You can also share your story on our Hidden Heartache message wall and post your message of support.


We won’t give up until everyone affected by bowel cancer gets the support they need.


Read Hidden Heartache: the untold story of bowel cancer.