Aims and objectives: The main aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of patients living with cancer as a chronic illness. BackgroundDue to recent advances in detection and treatment, cancer is now regarded as a chronic illness. However, living with cancer as a chronic illness can lead to a number of physical and psychosocial consequences all of which can lead to uncertainty over how patients view and plan for their future. DesignA longitudinal qualitative study.MethodsIndividuals attending oncology follow-up clinics with their clinical nurse specialist at a hospital in the North East of England were invited to participate in two semi-structured interviews over a 6-month period. A total of six individuals consented to participate, of whom two were women. One participant could not be contacted for the second interview, resulting in 11 interviews. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, pseudonymised and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.ResultsTwo superordinate themes emerged from the analysis; physical and psychological consequences of cancer; and adapting to life after treatment. ConclusionThe experience of future disorientation was common amongst participants however this was impacted on by a number of factors such as functional impairment, and fear of recurrence. Furthermore, future disorientation does not appear to be stable and may ease as patients begin to adjust to the uncertainty of living with colorectal cancer as a chronic illness. What is known about the topic?•Living with and beyond colorectal cancer can leave patients susceptible to a number of physiological and psychological outcomes.•Living with and beyond cancer can leave patients feeling unable to look ahead and plan for their future following treatment.•The NHS has surmised that supportive care following cancer falls short, and more can be done to help the transition into survivorship.What does this paper contribute to the wider global clinical community?•Living with colorectal cancer as a chronic illness can lead to feelings of future disorientation, something previously only reported in women living with and beyond gynaecological cancer.•Future disorientation is not a table construct for patients living with cancer as a chronic illness with some participants reporting it peaking at certain times such as the anniversary of their diagnosis, or immediately prior to follow-up appointments.