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Ovarian Cancer

Messages to others

The women we talked to offered many different types of advice, based on their experiences. People are all different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Take your symptoms seriously and be persistent with your doctors
 

Says women should take vague digestive symptoms to their doctor at an early stage and ask for tests.

Says women should take vague digestive symptoms to their doctor at an early stage and ask for tests.

Age at interview: 71
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 66
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It's the early detection, so I do actually say to people now, if someone says 'oh I have a problem with eating and I've been told I've got an irritable bowel', I do suggest, rather interferingly, that they go to their doctor and say 'could I please have a blood test, and can I have an ultrasound?' because it's early detection is the best, and my one real regret is that because my symptoms were so vague, I hadn't realised that there was a blood test and that I might have asked for an ultra sound. 

As the patient I wouldn't expect to have to ask, but I would have thought it would have been done, but it wasn't, and so that's one thing I do tell, I tell almost everybody I know if they start telling me they have these kind of symptoms I say 'do go to your doctor, just don't leave them', because they are vague and they're different for everyone, and you don't want to wait until you feel ill, because it creeps on you rather slowly, and if only we could wake up one morning and feel as we did when we were well, then we'd realise how far we'd slipped. But you don't get that, you just get used to feeling below par all the time.

  • Try to be positive and fight the illness
 

Being positive can be difficult at times but you need to believe that you will survive.

Being positive can be difficult at times but you need to believe that you will survive.

Age at interview: 59
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 49
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All the time I was always positive, I never ever thought it would kill me. I never ever thought I was going to die of it. I think sometimes that gets a bit difficult to do. You wake up some mornings and you feel grotty and you think 'oh'. But I think you read and you hear about positive thinking, and I know several people who have been positive thinking with various things and it hasn't always worked. But I think you have to be positive.

It's difficult sometimes not to waver, but try not to waver because you're the only person that can do it for you. Have all the support in the world and it's great, the support is tremendous but it's all down to you, so you have got to know that you will survive it, and you will survive it, don't ever doubt it.

  • Don't feel guilty about having bad days
 

People should not feel guilty about having days when they feel low and cannot be positive.

People should not feel guilty about having days when they feel low and cannot be positive.

Age at interview: 48
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 41
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I think what people cannot stand is this feeling that you've got to be positive, and if you're not positive you're not going to make it. And I think you've got to be realistic that, you know, having been through that sort of treatment there are going to be times when, or however positive a person you are, there are going to be times when you're going to hit rock bottom and not to feel guilty that you feel bad and you're feeling low, because it's an abnormal situation. And I think sometimes because it's an abnormal situation people need a bit more support than they would normally accept if they were going through something else.

  • It need not be a death sentence; have faith in your doctors
  • Keep hoping
  • Find out as much information as possible and demand answers to your questions
  • Take someone with you; two pairs of ears are better than one
  • Pay no attention to depressing survival statistics
  • Treatments are improving all the time, so don't give up
  • Live one day at a time and pace yourself
  • Find ways to take control
  • Try to carry on doing everyday things and lead a normal life
 

Recommends getting out and doing normal things to dispel depression and to show others it isn't...

Recommends getting out and doing normal things to dispel depression and to show others it isn't...

Age at interview: 61
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 58
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Do you have any message to other women about ovarian cancer based on your experience?

Try and live as most normal life as you can and try and cram in everything you can. I think to sit and think about your illness, you must get very depressed. Try and get out and meet people and, I think also, by the fact that you're doing this sort of thing, you're going out but you've got cancer, and you're joining this and you're doing that, people think, 'oh it isn't so bad'.  You know, if you can lead a life like that, you know, it must be better. Because I think I would drive myself mad if I just sat in here all day. But I've never sat in here all day, anyway.

  • Listen to advice but handle it your way
  • Accept help when it's offered
  • Talking to people about your illness can help you to cope
  • Once in remission try to put the experience behind you
  • Use cancer support centres because they can help you
  • Getting out and doing things can aid relaxation and help depression
  • There can be some positive outcomes from the illness
 

Her frightening cancer experience made her make time for the enjoyable things in life.

Her frightening cancer experience made her make time for the enjoyable things in life.

Age at interview: 59
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 59
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Is there anything you'd like to say to other women who find themselves diagnosed with ovarian cancer, any kind of message to them?

I suppose that I would say that there have been some positive, amongst all the negativity and the horror and the fright, there have been some positive things. I mean I've discovered things in life that I never knew existed like sort of making yourself as comfortable as possible and, you know, having all the nice things like sort of having lovely baths and, you know, aromatherapy, listening to nice music, trying to do as many feel-good things as possible.

I probably have worked too hard right throughout my life to have enjoyed those things, so there are definitely positive things to, you know, apart from being quite frightened a lot of the time. 

Last reviewed June 2016.
Last updated June 2016.



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