How to Maintain Emotional Wellness When You Have Ovarian Cancer
Many women may live with ovarian cancer for many years. That's why it's important to stay as physically and emotionally well as possible.
Physically and mentally patients have to be in tip-top shape. A combination of exercise, such as walking or swimming, and other healthy habits, such as not smoking, can be helpful.
Ovarian cancer can affect the gastrointestinal tract. So if you have this cancer, you should pay close attention to any digestive problems. A nutritionist can help. You can ask your doctor for a referral to one.
It's also important to keep a positive frame of mind. You can do this in a number of ways–through exercise, meditation, religion, spirituality, and, if needed, antidepressant medications.
Find a support network
It helps to maintain a strong relationship with your health care team.
Counseling can help, too. You can ask your doctor, health care provider, or hospital social worker for a recommendation to a trained therapist. Most hospitals, from major cancer centers to small community hospitals, employ a social worker and counselor.
Many women try to do it on their own, but it's a huge emotional burden. Women will see an expert to treat their cancer, but they often don't seek an expert in how to deal with the emotions caused by that cancer.
A support group, specifically one made up of women who have ovarian cancer, can be helpful. These groups act as a network, as education, and as a support structure. In a support group you can spend time with women who have survived the cancer. There are survivors. Women need to know that.
If you can't find a local group specifically for ovarian cancer, you can find support online. Or ask your doctor to introduce you to another patient.
Women living with ovarian cancer and their family members should also seek advocacy information and support from various national ovarian cancer groups. This may include getting in touch with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (at its website or via phone at 888-682-7426) or the Foundation for Women's Cancer (at its website or via phone at 800-444-4441), which was created by the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (866-399-6262) is another organization that may be helpful.
In addition, many women with ovarian cancer receive a monthly newsletter called Conversations. The newsletter is written by an ovarian cancer survivor. It has updates in research, treatments, and news, as well as a networking service that can help a woman find another woman living with ovarian cancer in her area. For more information, visit this website or call 210-401-1604.
Still, the decision to seek out a support group is a personal one. Some women benefit from them, while others do not. But women with ovarian cancer can also gain emotional empowerment by educating themselves.
Seek expert advice and care
It's important that patients are aware of what's going on. Most women with ovarian cancer cannot, for various reasons, be treated at a major cancer center by health care teams specialized in treating cancers in a woman's reproductive system. But they can be in contact with oncologists, some of whom now use e-mail to keep in touch with women with ovarian cancer who are being treated elsewhere. To find a doctor who specializes in cancer of a woman's reproductive system, called a gynecologic oncologist, call the Foundation for Women's Cancer at 800-444-4441.
Keep statistics in perspective
Many health care professionals recommend that you research your cancer, educate yourself, and ask your health care team as many questions as you need to. But be careful not to interpret statistics too literally.
It's very important that a woman not take everything she reads–all of that information–and apply it to herself. Women may want to share articles they have questions about. Make a list of questions before you come to the doctor's office. Go through that list. You should never feel rushed. You should feel that all your questions and concerns are being addressed. If things aren't clear, if a question is not answered, you should re-ask it. Always maintain clear lines of communication with all members of your health care team.