Facing Life with Ovarian Cancer for Caregivers

For many people, taking care of a wife, mother, grandmother, sister or friend who has ovarian cancer might seem like the most natural thing in the world to do because you love that person.

But your role as support and caregiver at this time might be more intense than what you have experienced before. You may have to coordinate care, talk to doctors and provide physical, emotional and spiritual support in ways that could be very challenging to you. You might find that you are spending a significant amount of time dedicated to care giving. You may feel a range of feelings because of the care giving. You might worry about how being a caregiver is affecting your work and family life.

Often, caregivers put their own feelings and needs aside. But over time a caregiver can burn out, potentially hurting his or her own health and then can become unavailable to the loved one. What is important to remember is that caregivers need to take care of themselves. Caregivers need to understand their strengths and limits and to find support to help manage the medical issues and to get help with errands.

Accept your feelings

Remember it is okay to have feelings of guilt, anger, stress and worry. Try to get support in how to manage these feelings, because you might not want to burden your loved one with cancer with them.

Learn how to communicate with your loved one

Ask your loved one what she specifically needs from you. Try not to tell her how she should feel because everyone feels differently. Listen and learn.

Prepare for visits to the doctor

Keep a list of medications and questions you want to ask. Rely on trusted sources on the web, such as the government, national organizations or major hospitals, to help you understand what is happening medically to your loved one. Feel free to ask the doctor to explain if you do not understand something.

Take care of yourself

Make time for yourself so that you can recharge. Try not to feel guilty that if you take time for yourself you are neglecting a loved one. If necessary, you can always read while your loved one is in the room or sleeping.

Join a support group

Support groups allow people to meet in groups, by telephone and over the Internet and be there for each other. Please join us Fridays at 1pm for our Staying Connected: Friends and Family video chat group. By being with others who share a common experience, you might get guidance on coping with feelings and with practical matters. Join our Inspire Online Support Community to connect with other caregivers.

Ask for help from others

Try not to worry that you are going to be a burden on others by asking for help. Most people want to help, in whatever way they can. Be prepared, though, that some people may not be able to help because they are fearful of cancer or they are having troubles, too. But when people offer to help, give them specific things that they can do.

The National Cancer Institute provides additional advice on how caregivers can manage during this difficult time.