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3 women on how to treat an ovarian cancer diagnosis



Some women experience ovarian cancer diagnosis after a lengthy, frustrating, and stressful process as many have no observable symptoms until the advanced stage of the cancer. And if someone has early symptoms of ovarian cancer, these are often vague or nonspecific, such as. As changes in appetite, abdominal distension and abdominal / pelvic pain.

"Women with a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer often had months of discomfort and several doctors were present before being diagnosed," explains Melissa Frey, gynecological oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, told SELF.

Aside from the sometimes exhaustive route to ovarian cancer diagnosis, it brings with it other challenges – such as great uncertainty, in part because the majority of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer when the cancer is already at an advanced stage. (According to estimates by the American Cancer Society, only 20 percent of 20 percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed early.)

But the best people who address these hurdles are those who firsthanded them. Therefore, SELF interviewed three inspiring survivors about how they handled the most difficult parts of ovarian cancer and how they progressed with a positive outlook during treatment. Your best advice below.

. 1 Let yourself be supported by family and friends.

For 69-year-old Mary Stommel of Virginia Beach, a strong support system was crucial to helping her meet her biggest challenges after she had diagnosed with ovarian cancer. However, it took some time to get people to help: "I like my independence, and it has not been easy to ask others to help them with their day-to-day tasks," she tells SELF.

On the days when she felt downcast, "They were more than willing to listen and give encouraging words." My family was a constant support to me and took turns taking turns in my chemo treatments, "says Stommel. "They made arrangements for meals and housekeeping because there were so many times that I could not even do the simplest things of daily life."

However, you may be in a situation in which a loved one does not do that. I do not know what to do or say . "Most of the patients I work with have the experience of a close friend who surprised them by not stepping forward to be there for them and a friend they did not know so well," says Bonnie A McGregor, a licensed clinical health psychologist who specializes in helping people manage cancer and chronic diseases, told SELF. "It's important to know that friends and family members have their own feelings about your diagnosis and the changes in relationship dynamics, "she says, adding that friends and family may feel their own grief at the thought of losing them.

It's also important to be specific in your support wishes, says McGregor. "For example, I can tell your friends that you would like to know what's going on in their day."

2. Give yourself permission to feel all your emotions, but create limits to your fear.

At first, Stommel tried to stay strong in front of everyone, although he was feeling anxious. "I did not want to look weak and I did not want anyone to feel sorry for me," she says.

But it's important that people with ovarian cancer are authentic in what they feel, "says McGregor, so you do not have to force yourself to smile and pretend optimism if it does not feel right at the moment. [19659014] In fact, a fearful reaction after a diagnosis and during the entire journey is completely normal and very worrying, because a woman was completely healthy before and suddenly finds out she has an advanced and aggressive cancer, "says Dr. Frey.

Das means you do not want to be consumed with anxiety and anxious thoughts, so working with a mental health professional can be a great tool. "There are cognitive behavioral techniques that can help women with inaccurate or distorted thoughts," says McGregor Benedict Benigno, MD, director of gynecological oncology at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute in Atlanta Takes his patients to minimize the time spent on anxious thoughts. "I ask my patients to allow only fourteen minutes a day to think about these issues," he tells SELF.

. 3 Try to keep a sense of humor.

Another advice from Stommel for anyone undergoing ovarian cancer treatment is to allow themselves a smile and laugh if they can. "I had to laugh and stay positive instead of focusing on the negative," she says. "Good humor has always helped me in difficult times." She even wore costumes for every chemo: "Not only did she make me happy, but the other patients would laugh and smile and even take pictures."

One aspect of ovarian cancer treatment that makes it difficult to feel carefree is losing your hair after chemotherapy, Dr. Benigno, as this can contribute to a loss of identity. He recommends finding a great wig, if that's of interest to you, and sees it as a chance to change and play with your image.

. 4 Keep up with your hobbies and interests in order to get a normal feeling.

For Leslie Medley-Russell, 52, of Houston, Texas, it was important that her diagnosis of ovarian cancer not be the largest part of her life. "I went on driving through life as usual," she tells SELF.

As an Ironman triathlete, her version of the normal was linked throughout her treatment with the support of her physician and the entire medical team. "I had moments when I did not feel great," she says. "But I knew it was only temporary and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel."

And you do not have to be a triathlete to train physically for a cancer diagnosis and mental. "Even a 30-minute walk every day helps," says Medley-Russell. "I really believe that I did not have to suffer so much because I continued to train."

Dr. Benigno agrees that maintaining normalcy is important to deal with the psychological burden and diagnosis of ovarian cancer. He recommends working, if possible, and advocates plans for the future, with fun in the foreground. "I urge my patients to buy a large calendar that shows a different image for each month and begin to describe things that are fun, from piano lessons to planning a great trip," he says.

This is exactly what 56-year-old Kym Roley from Honolulu, Hawaii did after diagnosing ovarian cancer. "My husband and I took the opportunity to do some travel that we have been postponing for some time," she tells the SELF. "Do not wait for that to happen before you do the things you want to do!"

You may find it difficult to find the energy to do the things you want to do at points, McGregor writes. "I think like money: you need to budget your energy and invest wisely, it's helpful to do as much as you can, but also be careful where you put your energy." So try to find a healthy balance by taking care of yourself, getting the rest you need, and also taking time for things that make your life meaningful, such as family, friends, work, or hobbies you before.

. 5 Take an active part in your health care.

For Roley it was important to educate herself about her illness. "I wanted to get to know every detail," she says. "I think knowledge is power and the more information I could get, the better I was prepared for a fight."

When her cancer came back for the second time and further surgery, radiation, and chemo were required, Roley gratefully felt better prepared for her broad knowledge of the disease. "I keep a large folder of my medical information and I'm still studying the current cancer medicines and I'm making good progress," she says.

Dr. Frey encourages patients to communicate with their gynecological oncologist on a regular, open and honest basis. In a qualitative study published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology in 2014, Dr. Ing. Frey and her team found that all 22 survivors of ovarian cancer in the study's focus group said this communication with their peers. The doctor on things like goals, perceptions and values ​​was an essential element in determining the course of treatment. However, only 14 percent of the group said that this type of discussion took place regularly for them.

. 6 Be Proactive in Your Mental Health After the treatment is over.

"It's important that you and your friends and family know everything is not normalizing when the treatment is complete, and friends and family want that, they want this disease to be over," says McGregor. But even if the treatment is over and you have recovered physically, that does not mean that you have already recovered emotionally.

"Many cancer patients are surprised to learn that cancer diagnosis and treatment can demand an emotional toll that does not make itself known until later," she continues. "I had patients who came to my office three years after the treatment ended and said," My doctor says my cancer has disappeared, my family says I should be happy, why am I feeling so sad? "

Getting support Because emotional healing is important, and you may want to get in touch with a psychiatrist to help you learn stress management techniques and cope with the fear of recurrence," McGregor explains. She was co-creator of an online stress management and workshop called Living WELL for survivors of ovarian cancer who have recently completed the treatment.)

The experience of each after a cancer diagnosis differed naturally. [19659039] But the overwhelming message from Stommel, Medley-Russell, and Roley is clear: use the diagnosis as an opportunity to find out what's really important to you.

"Yes, there were challenges, but most of all, I have so much I learned myself from the experience that it was definitely outweighing the negative, "says Leslie." I always say that challenges stagnate us make stronger and help us to appreciate life much more "

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