If you have ovarian cancer, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. After all, this diagnosis can mean many different things, depending on the type of ovarian cancer and its stage. Getting support as someone with ovarian cancer — or as a caregiver — can be key to keeping up your quality of life and overall sense of wellness. Support groups of all types offer a way to meet people who understand your journey and who can help address your questions and concerns.
It’s important to find community after an ovarian cancer diagnosis. The benefits of having a community include opportunities to:
One of the best ways to find community is through support groups, mentorship, or therapy, where you can meet with people face to face to talk about what you’re dealing with. Ask your health care team for referrals if you’re not sure how to get the support you need.
Support groups are groups of people who meet at predetermined times to talk about or process a certain issue. In the case of ovarian cancer, a designated group leader may lead discussions about issues that come up during diagnosis or treatment for ovarian cancer, issues related to survivorship, and issues related to caregiving.
You can usually find in-person support programs through your cancer center or hospital support services. Some nonprofit organizations also provide support groups. If you are interested in joining a support group, be sure to ask your oncologist or other health care provider to learn more about what’s available.
If you’d prefer to talk about your cancer journey one on one, consider finding a therapist or a social worker who specializes in working with people diagnosed with ovarian cancer and those who care for them. Some people see therapy as a support group for one.
Your therapist can help you process a cancer diagnosis, deal with any setbacks, and understand what is going on emotionally as you undergo treatment or care for someone in treatment. Most gynecologic oncologists or other health care professionals involved in your care can help direct you to specialized therapists.
Some people choose to find an ovarian cancer mentor — someone who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, has cared for someone diagnosed with ovarian cancer, or is an ovarian cancer survivor.
Social connections have been shown to improve overall health and longevity, especially as people age. Many mentors have also found it meaningful to pass the knowledge they’ve gained on to others. For some, mentorship has become a huge part of their lives.
Like support groups, mentorship can help you forge a meaningful relationship that focuses on helping you through your journey with ovarian cancer. The mentorship relationship is different from a friendship or a therapy relationship. A mentor is someone who understands what you’re going through and can walk alongside you during your own ovarian cancer journey.
Some people with ovarian cancer prefer to connect with others online rather than in person. Building a support network online can make it easier to join meetings if you aren’t feeling well, or if your immune system is compromised. Connecting with others online can also give you access to people from around the world who can offer support, rather than just people in your local community.
Online support groups can be a great way to meet others who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and get support from them. Some online support groups meet via video, while others might meet in a text-only chat room. Online support groups are typically led in a manner similar to in-person groups, with a leader who asks questions and directs the conversation.
Some people choose to create private Facebook groups (or other social media groups) that center on their own personal journey with ovarian cancer. These groups allow you to get support from people who might be far away. By creating a group for yourself, you can share updates once, without having to tell everyone individually when something changes with your condition or treatment.
A Facebook group for friends and loved ones also allows you to put someone else in charge of posting when you are exhausted or otherwise not feeling up to sharing information yourself. People in your group can respond to your updates or post comments so you can see how much you are loved by friends both near and far.
You could also join larger social media groups designed for people diagnosed with ovarian cancer. These groups may or may not have specific meeting times like support groups do. However, they can provide you with a place to ask your questions, share your struggles, talk about your story with ovarian cancer, and more.
Some people love the support that Facebook groups offer, while others find these groups difficult to navigate. You may need to join several groups before you find one that is right for you.
MyOvarianCancerTeam is the online social network and cancer support community specifically designed for people diagnosed with ovarian cancer, their family members, and their caregivers. You can ask any questions that you might have about cancer or treatment options, share your own story, or join ongoing conversations about cancer and life.
Members find that the site helps them cope because people often share similar experiences and explain how they got through them. One member said, “There are such great gals, both young women and older! I always find encouraging posts, laughs, and love! And support always!”
Other people use the site to learn more about ovarian cancer. As one member wrote, “There is lots of good advice and support on this site.” Another told a new member, “Welcome to this site, where everyone is wonderful and helpful with any questions.”
Overall, MyOvarianCancerTeam helps those facing ovarian cancer feel less alone. As one member put it, “I am thankful for all who share on this site. We need each other!”
Have you found support through your cancer journey? Share your experience in the comments below, or by posting on MyOvarianCancerTeam.