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?A.
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.
Find additional information through Cancer.Net.
My aunt was recently diagnosed with a form of gynecological cancer. What type of resources are available for my aunt? She is apprehensive about receiving treatment (surgery, biopsies, etc.) for her diagnosis. Also, are there any patient navigation services available to provide support for her and my cousin who is the primary caregiver?A.
Being apprehensive about treatment is not unusual after receiving a cancer diagnosis, and she may begin to feel overwhelmed. An oncology social worker can help your aunt with identifying how she is presently coping and learn new coping skills to manage any anxiety and fears about treatment, how to manage financial challenges, and how to talk with her medical team and her family about cancer and other practical concerns.
There are supports for your cousin as well, he/she may consider joining a support group, or pursue individual counseling as well. Caregivers have similar emotional concerns about a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, for example, providing emotional support for your loved one, managing the day to day activities, such as making appointments for your loved one’s treatment, or preparing meals. An oncology social worker can help the caregiver identify ways in which he/she is presently coping and then develop new coping skills, learn how to provide practical support while also caring for their own personal needs.
In regards to resources, there are several types, which are provided below:
CancerCare provides free, professional support services to anyone affected by cancer: people with cancer, caregivers, children, loved ones, and the bereaved. Nationally, we can provide telephone counseling and support groups as well as online support groups. In addition, she or her caregiver can go directly to our website to obtain other publications and educational materials.
If she is interested in joining a face to face support group in her community she can contact the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org to find locations of nearby support groups.
Lastly, I would recommend she speak to the hospital social worker to see what is available. They may have counseling, support groups and wellness programs she can utilize.
CancerCare currently offers financial assistance to those who qualify. The financial assistance can be used for transportation, homecare or child care expenses. Additionally, she may qualify for assistance with medications. If she would like to apply for this assistance, she would need to call us directly and also fill out a financial application form she can contact our hope line at 800-813-4673.
I would also recommend she contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. They can connect her to her local office which may have financial assistance available.
Other organizations she can call and ask about financial help are: Patient Advocate Foundation at 800-532-5274. The Patient Advocate Foundation provides education, legal counseling and referrals to cancer patients concerning managed care, insurance and financial issues.
Lastly, I would encourage her to speak to a social worker or financial counselor at her treatment center and explain her financial situation. Most treatment facilities will work out payment plans, delayed payments or a reduction in a co-payment or help find outside financial resources.