Q. I was diagnosed a few years ago with ovarian cancer and have finished my treatment, but now I'm afraid of recurrence. Is this normal?
After a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, a woman can feel vulnerable and experience a lot of uncertainty. The emotional, social and physical experience of having ovarian cancer can be overwhelming and living with this experience often leaves one with a fear of this happening again.
While your fears are typical, at times they many vary. For example, around the time of your check-up, blood tests, or when a milestones or anniversary is approaching you may feel sad, irritable, or anxious. Allowing yourself to acknowledge and accept your feelings is the first step. Developing ways to manage these feelings is extremely important and a way to be kind to yourself. An important act of kindness to yourself is to live in the now and find ways to balance your fear of recurrence with enjoying your life, and the hope for continued wellness.
Ways to manage fear of recurrence:
- Get support. Many women find comfort in a support group. Share your feelings and learn how others are coping with challenging and common fears, which can provide you with a community of strength and understanding. You can also speak with a CancerCare oncology social worker about your concerns.
- Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep and reduce stress. Find things to do that are comforting such as meditation, yoga class, writing in a journal, or spending time with your pet. We all have activities we find soothing and it is important to develop these and do them when you need to.
- Communicate. Share your feelings with the people who are important to you. Let them know how you are, and what they can do to help. Set limits if you need to by deciding what you can commit to and what you can do another day.
Q. I've been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and I'd like to connect with others who are also in an advanced stage. Where should I look?
Sharing one’s feelings and learning how others cope in similar circumstances can provide you with a community of strength and guidance.
Here are my suggestions for finding a group:
CancerCare offers face-to-face, telephone, and online support groups that are led by professional oncology social workers.
The Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) offers both ovarian and gynecologic cancer “listservs.” A listserv is a group that communicates through email. After you join (or “subscribe”) you will receive emails from others who post messages that are sent to everyone in the group. These groups often have a large number of members, so it is likely you can find others with a similar diagnosis to yours.
SHARE (Self-Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer) has a toll-free hotline, 1-866-891-2392, and can help you find local support groups.
Cancer Hope Network connects people with similar diagnoses for support and guidance.