Practical advice for women whose cancer has returned

There's a lot of support available for those whose cancer has returned. Here we provide information about practical considerations and services that can provide practical support to you through this time.

Practical considerations

It's possible that you may be feeling a sense of loss since your diagnosis. The loss you feel may include the loss of independence. Sometimes families and friends can be a little overprotective and feel they're doing the right thing when they take over your household tasks or start running your day to day life.

If this has happened and you would prefer to carry on with your routine as normally as possible then try to discuss your feelings with your family and friends. You can always ask your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) to meet with you and your partner to help explain what you need and want now, and what you don't.

You may also be feeling a loss of physical or sexual closeness. There can be many misunderstandings following a diagnosis of recurrent ovarian cancer. Your partner may feel nervous about physical contact in case it hurts you and at the same time you may feel rejected. Again, try to talk to your partner about this.

For some people there is a desire to put their 'house in order', which can mean writing a will if you did not do so before you had ovarian cancer, and thinking about what you want from medical treatment today and in the future.

Although it can feel painful doing these sort of things, it's something we should all do whether we have cancer or not. 

It may feel more poignant for you doing this now, but you will hopefully feel relieved when you have made decisions and you can get on with living your life to the full.

Asking for practical support

Being faced with the prospect of having to go through cancer treatment again may feel like an impossible challenge to cope with. Having low energy levels can make life difficult, so asking others for practical help such as running errands or assisting with shopping or travel can be invaluable. Many people are happy to help in this way. 

  • Think about asking friends, colleagues or neighbours.
  • If you're part of a strong local community or faith group, seek practical assistance from them. 
  • Look to see if your local council offers transport services to/from the hospital.
  • Check with your local hospital information centre, CNS or GP to find out about local services.

Accessing additional help and support

Perhaps you've already visited a cancer support centre or have used complementary therapies. Maybe you have not felt the need to access additional support but you feel now that you would benefit from some extra help. There are lots of ways to get some support.

Target Ovarian Cancer

Our support line offers advice, information and signposting for anyone concerned about any aspect of ovarian cancer.

Online support

Many charities have forums you can join to read about other people's experiences and share your feelings.

Our In Touch group is a private Facebook group for women with ovarian cancer to talk about their concerns.

HealthUnlocked is an online forum with hundreds of health communities.

Macmillan Cancer Support and Maggie's Cancer Centre also have excellent online forums that can give support.

Support centres and hospices

Many hospitals offering cancer treatment will either have their own or a charity-run cancer support centre (such as Macmillan or Maggie's) onsite, or they may be a local cancer support centre or hospice nearer to your home. 

Speak to your CNS or oncologist about the support that is available.

Search for support centres and groups near you.

Other professional support

You may find it helpful to seek professional support to help you deal with your feelings and emotions. There are plenty of options available, including counselling, psychological support, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. 

Read more about all of these options and other sources of support.

Cancer affects your mind and emotional wellbeing, as well as your body. Some people may become depressed or suffer from anxiety. When we feel this way it can seem impossible to explain our feelings to others, or to ask for help. Often people think that they shouldn't bother their CNS or GP about their feelings. It's important to look after yourself emotionally as well as physically so do let people know if you need some help at this time.

 


This information is reviewed regularly and is in line with accepted national and international guidelines. All of our publications undergo an expert peer review and are reviewed by women with ovarian cancer to ensure that we provide accurate and high-quality information. To find out more take a look at our information standards.