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How to Maintain Emotional Wellness When You Have Ovarian Cancer

Many women may live with ovarian cancer for a number of years. That's why it's important to stay as physically and emotionally well as possible. A combination of exercise, such as walking or swimming, and other healthful habits, such as following a well-balanced diet and refraining from smoking, can be helpful.

It's important to keep a positive frame of mind. You can do this in a number of ways —  through exercise, meditation, religion, spirituality, therapy, and, if needed, antidepressant medications.

It's important that your treatment is guided by a gynecologic oncologist, a subspecialist in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancers. Because of his or her special training, he or she is familiar with the potential emotional problems a woman with ovarian cancer may experience, which enables coordination of the care you need. 

Find a support network 

It helps to maintain a strong relationship with your health care team. They are the best resource for getting you the emotional support you need. 

Counseling may be very helpful for you. You can ask your doctor, other 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 deal with all of their complex feelings on their own, but it can be 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 can act as a social network, educational resource, and 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.  

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 (888-682-7426) or the Foundation for Women's Cancer (800-444-4441), 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 choose to 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 you find another woman living with ovarian cancer in your area. For more information, visit its website or call 210-401-1604.

Still, the decision to find a support group is a personal one. Some women benefit from them, while others do not. Women with ovarian cancer can also gain emotional empowerment by educating themselves.

Seek expert advice and care

You will want to make sure you get the best medical care and treatment available. Choosing your doctor and treatment center is one of  the most important decisions you will make. There are many excellent cancer treatment centers throughout the U.S. 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.

It is very important that your particular findings be put into context by an expert. Gynecologic oncologists are subspecialists with advanced training in the diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance of female cancers including ovarian cancer.

Communicating with your health care team 

Many health care professionals recommend that you research your cancer, educate yourself, and ask your health care team as many questions as you feel are necessary. Be careful not to interpret statistics too literally.

It's important not to apply to yourself everything you read. You may want to share articles you have questions about with your doctor. Make a list of questions before you visit your doctor. Never feel rushed. You should feel that your doctor is addressing all of your questions and concerns. If something isn't clear, ask again. Always maintain clear lines of communication with all members of your health care team.