Ovarian cancer can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, loss of appetite, back pain, and weight loss. But these symptoms can often be nonexistent or vague. Because of this, some women may not receive a diagnosis until after the cancer has spread.
Ovarian cancer is treatable with chemotherapy and surgery. But even after beginning or finishing treatment, a diagnosis can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health.
You may find yourself fearful or uncertain of the future. The help of a support group may make it easier to maintain a positive attitude.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, here’s what you need to know about support groups and how to find one.
You may find that you receive all the support you need from your healthcare team, family, and friends. But joining a support group can be helpful for some people as well.
Although your loved ones are in your corner and rooting for your success, they may not understand exactly what you’re going through. This is how a support group can help.
Support groups are beneficial because you’re surrounded by women who live with the disease, too. These women understand your fears, concerns, and worries.
They’ve likely undergone the same or similar therapies. So, they know the side effects and what to expect during and after treatment.
Even with family and friends supporting you throughout treatment for ovarian cancer, you may feel lonely, depressed, or isolated at times. Joining a support group and being around others in the same situation can help you feel less lonely.
Plus, when you’re around family or friends, you may hold back and not always express how you feel. You may feel the need to protect your loved ones from the reality of what you’re going through.
If you don’t want them to be afraid or nervous for you, you may minimize how you feel. In an ovarian cancer support group, you don’t have to do this.
You can speak openly about how you feel, without having to tone down your emotions or sugarcoat the truth. It’s a safe platform to share experiences and suggestions related to treatment and other aspects of the disease.
What you gain by attending a support group may also improve your quality of life. You can learn techniques to make living with the disease a little easier.
There are several different types of support groups, which you can choose based on personal preference.
Some people prefer the structure of in-person support groups where there’s a moderator to guide the discussion. Some support groups are organized by hospitals, medical clinics, and other medical organizations. So, there are also opportunities for you to connect with psychologists, social workers, doctors, and nurses.
If an in-person ovarian cancer support group isn’t available near you or is difficult to attend, you can join an online support group. This might be a better match if you don’t plan on frequently participating or if you prefer some anonymity. There usually isn’t any face-to-face interaction online, but you can still ask questions, respond to messages, and share your experiences.
To get information on support groups in your area, talk to your doctor or the hospital where you receive treatment. You can also request information from the American Cancer Society or the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
You may have to visit one or more support groups before finding one that’s right for you. While most groups offer a supportive atmosphere, the culture and attitude of groups can vary depending on those in attendance.
It’s important to feel comfortable no matter where you attend. If you don’t like the atmosphere of one group, keep searching until you find a group that offers the support you’re looking for.
Ovarian cancer is a serious, potentially life threatening disease, so fear and uncertainty about the future are common. Whether you’re going through treatment or recently completed treatment, the right type of support can help you maintain a positive attitude. Plus, support can give you the strength and energy you need to fight this disease.