Wellbeing for anyone whose ovarian cancer is incurable

Here we provide support to help you cope with the news if your cancer is no longer responding to treatment.

Mental wellbeing support

Hearing that cancer is incurable can be incredibly difficult. You may find it hard to think clearly, or may be in shock, even if you were aware that the cancer was progressing.  

Some people live with the knowledge that the cancer is incurable for a long time. This might mean having lots of different treatments to control it, and during this time they carry on with their day-to-day lives, spending time doing things that they love. Some people make a conscious choice and decide they no longer want to continue active treatment. Some people might become too unwell to continue treatment, or it might not be possible to control the cancer any longer. In these cases, your medical team will focus on making you as comfortable as possible and treating any painful or distressing symptoms

You might find that talking openly and honestly to others about your diagnosis can help you to come to terms with what’s happening. This may be with family and friends or you may need a bit more support from a professional support service. 

Find out more about professional support services that are available to you

Other support 

It might also help to: 

Diet and nutrition 

You might find that the cancer, your treatment and medication have reduced your appetite or changed the way things taste and the foods that you want to eat. This is totally normal. If you’re experiencing these kinds of side effects, you may want to: 

  • Try eating small, frequent meals and snacks rather than three large meals each day  
  • If you’re feeling sick or vomiting you may also find cold foods help to reduce cooking smells and therefore help to limit nausea 
  • Suck on a boiled sweet or drinking fizzy drinks such as lemonade can also help, as can eating slowly and sitting in an upright position 
  • Try drinking nourishing drinks such as fruit smoothies and milkshakes to help you maintain your weight
  • Try eating liquid or soft foods, such as soup and jelly, as they can often be easiest to eat when food isn't appealing 

Other support 

Read our guide Ovarian cancer, diet and nutrition [PDF] or order a copy for free. This guide has more information about what to eat and drink when you have ovarian cancer and practical advice for getting all of the nourishment you need, even when eating is hard. 

Watch our diet and nutrition session with Janet Chu, Specialist Oncology Dietitian:

You can ask your medical team if you have any concerns or want to know more about what diet is right for you. There’s also lots of information online: 

  • Maggie’s has nutritional therapists who can talk to you about your needs. They also run workshops where you can learn more about eating well when you have cancer: 
  • Penny Brohn UK has very good information on healthy eating 
  • The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has information on eating well during cancer 
  • Macmillan has information about eating a healthy diet 

Physical activity 

Keeping active can help you feel more in control of your body. It can also help you cope with some of the effects of being unwell, such as fatigue and pain, and improve your emotional wellbeing too.  

You may have worries about increasing your level of activity but even small amounts can be helpful. Gentle movement, such as yoga, walking or gardening, can help to ease you back into physical activity and can also help your mind. There will be days when you have more energy than others so be kind to yourself and find a pace that you’re comfortable with. Your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or GP can talk to you about how to exercise safely and may be able to recommend exercises that you can do at home. They can also refer you to other health professionals for further support. This may be a physiotherapist (someone who’s specially trained to help people affected by illness through movement and exercise). Or it may be a cancer exercise specialist (a training instructor who has had extra training in supporting people with cancer).  

Accessing support 

Last reviewed: May 2022

To learn more about our review process, take a look at our information standards.