Getting a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, and you may have a lot of unanswered questions. We’re here to help demystify the process, and support you as you manage all the new information and decisions that arise.
Checklist of First Steps After Cancer Diagnosis
1. Find a gynecologic oncologist to treat you.
Many studies conducted over the past decade have shown that an ovarian cancer patient’s chance of survival is significantly improved when a gynecologic oncologist performs her surgery. Some studies showed ovarian cancer survival rates as much as 50 percent greater, compared to patients whose surgeries were done by surgeons less experienced in the techniques used to treat ovarian cancer. Research suggests that across all gynecologic cancers, patients who are treated by gynecologic oncologists have better outcomes.
2. Ask your doctor about enrolling in a clinical trial.
Clinical trials are available for patients in every stage of treatment—before, during and after. Our website can guide you through some of the common questions about clinical trials. If you want to look for a clinical trial, we have a clinical trial navigator who can offer a list of clinical trials you may be eligible for, or you can search for information from the National Institutes of Health.
3. Find support.
OCRA offers many options for support, guidance, connection and information. Sign up today and find what works best for you.
Helpful tips from our patient community
If you’ve just been diagnosed, remember that you are not alone — others have been there, and they have helpful tips to offer. OCRA’s Woman to Woman peer mentors and Staying Connected virtual support series participants shared these tips for managing the ups and downs.
- Information can be helpful but also can be overwhelming. Try to balance getting enough information to be well-informed with not seeking every bit of information which can be exhausting.
- Find trustworthy sources of information (like OCRA) for there is some scary things out there that are not accurate.
- Keep a journal or excel sheet of your medications, timing, side effects for you may notice there is a pattern of what helps and what doesn’t.
- Ask your healthcare team about strategies to prevent mouth sores, neuropathy, constipation/diarrhea, weight loss, and maintaining physical strength.
- If you are experiencing symptoms not normal for you (incontinence, pain, dryness, abdominal soreness) ask your healthcare team for help.
- My Woman to Woman mentor helped me think through questions to ask my doctor about my diagnosis and treatment.
- I wish I had cut my hair short prior to starting chemotherapy.
- Smaller, more frequent meals helped including soups and smoothies.
- Walk, walk, walk…. Even if it is small loops around the house until you feel stronger.
- You may need to be your own advocate to find information and support. OCRA can help.
4. Get genetic testing.
Genetic testing can help determine risk of many cancers, including ovarian and endometrial cancers, and can also be an important tool for optimizing cancer treatment. Be sure to visit a genetic counselor and undergo testing after your diagnosis.
5. Learn more about your diagnosis.
Knowing the basics about the type of gynecologic cancer you’ve been diagnosed with can help you make the best decisions for the road ahead.
Remember, OCRA is here to help you. Please don’t hesitate to call or email us if you need assistance.