When you’re first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it’s only natural to feel frightened and worried about the future. Some women want to find out as much as possible about the disease as soon as they can; others prefer to seek information at a gentler pace.
Many people will be very shocked by the news, often because they had no idea that their symptoms were going to be due to cancer. Younger women may say ‘I didn’t think people my age got ovarian cancer’, as it is often thought to be a disease of menopausal women. Other women will have had an inkling that they might have cancer and, although shocked and upset, they may also be relieved that a diagnosis has at last been reached and treatment can begin. Many women feel frightened of the treatment, of hospitals, of operations, of dying, of pain, of the future, of losing their job. These are all very real and understandable concerns.
Because the symptoms of the disease can be vague and non-specific, some women, especially those who’ve had to fight to get investigations done, will be angry that no one seemed to take their problems seriously. Women in this position may also experience heightened anxiety about whether this will affect the chances of treatment being successful.
Some women may avoid thinking about their diagnosis, hoping or pretending, that a mistake has been made. Others will blame themselves, worrying that they did something to cause the cancer, however unlikely that may be.
Many women will feel sad about the effect the illness will have on their families, having to expose them to all the worries and uncertainties of treatment. Younger women may be upset at the effects of ovarian cancer and its treatment on their fertility.
It is important to acknowledge that it’s normal to feel angry, frightened and guilty when going through a stressful experience like being diagnosed with cancer, and it can help to share those feelings. Some women find they can get all the support they need from their family and friends, while others prefer to talk to someone outside their immediate circle. Ovacome offers one to one support and advice, and we can also put you in touch with other women who’ve had similar experiences. You may find it helpful to join the Ovacome online community which can be accessed in the My Ovacome section of this website.
However you feel, it will take a while for the reality of the situation to sink in. It is a good idea to have someone with you at each appointment as it may be difficult to take in all the information you receive. Some doctors will be happy for you to record the consultation so that you can go over what was said. Some will give you a sheet of information with all the important points on it so that you can read it at home. Others will be happy for you to get in touch with them or a specialist nurse a few days after the appointment to go over the main points again and answer any questions. Others will give you an initial consultation followed by another one a few weeks later when decisions about treatment can be made, giving you a chance to think over what you’ve discussed.
Just remember that there is lots of support and information available. Please do call us on Freephone 0800 008 7054 and we will be happy to listen and point you in the right direction.
Last review April 2016
Date of next review April 2018