While your oncologist focuses on treating your cancer, the palliative team works to manage any symptoms of the cancer, side effects from treatment, or other stressors you’re facing, she says.
Reach out to your health care team to help you find resources. After an ovarian cancer diagnosis, you might need help with everything from dealing with your emotions to paying for treatment.
Members of your cancer care team can help you sort through what resources are available to you. Your team might include doctors, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.
For example, Wethington says, social workers can be very helpful.
“Social workers can help with everything from accessing resources, if somebody needs resources, to understanding insurance, helping with equipment you might need arranged at home, to providing supportive therapy and serving as a therapist,” she says.
Keep up with your follow-up care. After you finish a course of treatment, you may feel both relieved and anxious. Expect your doctor to keep a close eye on your recovery with follow-up appointments and monitoring over the long term. Ask them what schedule they suggest, and keep up with it.
Because ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage, there’s a good chance the cancer will eventually come back. If it does, your doctor will come up with a treatment plan based on exactly where your cancer is, what treatments you’ve had before, and your overall health. Some people need treatment on and off for years.
Keep copies of your medical records and health insurance claims. If you have to switch to a new doctor, that will make for an easier transition.
There’s no way to guarantee your cancer won’t return. Healthy habits like exercising, eating well, and reducing stress might help, Wethington says. But, she says, “none of them are silver bullets.”
Figuring out how to live with ovarian cancer can be a steep learning curve. Through it all, Rouse says, she found the emotional journey the most challenging part.
“I figured out the physical stuff pretty quickly. It was the emotional aspect that needed the most internal assessment to feel whole again,” she says. “It’s best to take it one day at a time.”