Living With Cancer
What you can do to help yourself or someone you care about who is living with cancer.
Many people who are living with cancer talk about the feelings of being powerless and out-of-control - especially during the time right after their diagnosis or recurrence of the disease. Practicing the following actions can help to empower you as you make the decisions affecting your life.
1. Become a partner in the decisions you need to make with your healthcare team.
Some people prefer to know everything - including all the options and alternatives - about their disease and treatments. Other people prefer that the doctor make all the decisions and they take their direction. Whatever your style or preference let your cancer care team know how you want to be involved in the decision-making.
And when that changes - let them know that too!
2. Let your family and friends know you need their help.
Cancer and its treatments can mean changes in your relationships. It can strain communication. Those close to you may not experience cancer in the same way as you. They may be afraid of losing you and emotional because you are suffering. They may also feel the need to be strong or that they have to hold the family together. Roles may shift and ways of interacting with one another may change.
Learning how to ask for help is one of the side-effects of living with cancer.
3. Stay involved in your life and in your important relationships.
People who are ill do better on the road to recovery when they stay engaged in their usual activities and are connected with people they care about. As much as possible, keep doing those things that bring you satisfaction and keep you connected, even if you may need to rest more often and need more help than before.
Find a pace that suits you.
4. Make plans.
Create plans and goals for the time when treatment is finished.
Develop plans to create a more fulfilling future.
5. Learn to relax.
Body and mind are interconnected. Relaxing the body may promote your body’s natural ability to heal. The Relaxation Response, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, meditation, and guided imagery are some of the body-mind techniques used to help people relax. They are easy to learn, cost little or nothing to practice and have no harmful side-effects.
Listen to our Mindfulness and Stress Management seminars on Youtube:
6. Consider joining a cancer support group.
Being with other people who are living with cancer can be a relief and a source of hope and healing. Groups can be most helpful with problems such as feeling isolated or discriminated against, and with feelings of anger, self-blame and guilt. Groups can also be a place to unburden away from family and friends.
7. Sexuality and intimacy.
As a result of the treatment for ovarian cancer, women are likely to experience a lack of sexual desire because of the side-effects or because they may not feel comfortable with how their body has changed. Moreover, stress, worry, anaesthesia, pain, radiation and chemotherapy, feeling ill and being tired are all powerful depressants likely to have a dampening effect on sexual feelings.
Sex has a great deal to do with the mind as well as the body and with the heart. It can be most helpful to talk with your partner about what you are feeling and what your partner is feeling. If you need some guidance with the conversation, getting some help with your family doctor might be a good place to start.
Ovarian Cancer Canada has an archived session by Dr Anne Katz:
Dr Katz has also written a book that provides helpful information about this important
area entitled Woman Cancer Sex:
8. Maintain hope.
Many people think that there is no hope and no future after a cancer diagnosis. But there are approximately 17,000 women living with ovarian cancer in Canada. Hope is not just the belief that we will recover and live long and full lives after cancer - hope is also the belief that life can be meaningful no matter what the outcome after diagnosis.
Celebrate your life.
Click here for a list of Support Groups and Resources in your area.