Insights from Ovarian Cancer Patients

Insights from Ovarian Cancer Patients

Living with Ovarian Cancer: Insights from Those Who’ve Been There

Image source: WebMD

Ovarian cancer is a challenging condition that affects many women worldwide. It occurs when abnormal cells develop in one or both ovaries, which are vital reproductive organs responsible for hormone production and egg storage. While treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy exist, it’s important to gain a deeper understanding of this condition from those who have experienced it firsthand. Here’s what people with ovarian cancer want you to know:

Ask Questions and Be Your Own Advocate

Kate Welsford, who had a low-malignancy tumor in her ovary at the age of 19, shares her journey towards parenthood despite the challenges she faced. When a second tumor was discovered in her other ovary, threatening her chances of conceiving, open and honest conversations with her doctor became pivotal. Welsford and her doctor decided to postpone ovarian tumor surgery and opted for ovarian stimulation to preserve her eggs. Thanks to their proactive approach, Welsford and her husband now have three children.

The key lesson here is to ask questions and be your own advocate. By actively engaging with healthcare professionals, Welsford was able to explore options beyond the immediate treatment, ultimately leading to the fulfillment of her dream of having a family. So, don’t hesitate to inquire about the future and explore various possibilities that may exist beyond the initial diagnosis.

Early Symptoms Can Be Misleading

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Kate Thompson-Maher, a retired doctor diagnosed with ovarian cancer, recalls experiencing symptoms that were initially disregarded. Pelvic cramping, bloating, increased urination, nausea, and heartburn all signaled the presence of ovarian cancer, but these nonspecific signs were mistaken for other common ailments. Thompson-Maher now reflects on whether detecting these symptoms earlier could have led to an earlier diagnosis.

This scenario is not unusual, as early-stage ovarian cancer often lacks distinct warning signs, while advanced symptoms can mimic other conditions. Raising awareness about the vague and subtle symptoms can help individuals recognize the potential signs and seek medical attention promptly. Thompson-Maher urges everyone not to dismiss such symptoms and stresses the importance of seeking medical advice.

Get a Second Opinion for Peace of Mind

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Benita Dallas, after experiencing unusual symptoms like a racing heart and body aches, received a terrifying diagnosis of stage IV ovarian cancer. During her hospital stay, she was repeatedly told that her prognosis was grim and that nothing could be done. Determined to fight for her life, Dallas sought a second opinion from another doctor. To her astonishment, the second diagnosis revealed a less severe outlook, defying the initial grim prognosis.

This experience emphasizes the importance of seeking a second opinion, especially when dealing with a late-stage cancer diagnosis. Dallas credits the second opinion for changing her life, highlighting the need to explore different perspectives and treatment options. By obtaining multiple medical opinions, patients can gain peace of mind and potentially discover alternative paths for their treatment journey.

Manageable Ongoing Treatment

It’s important to recognize that ovarian cancer, like certain other conditions, may not be curable. However, with appropriate therapy, symptoms can be controlled, allowing individuals to experience periods of remission and feel relatively normal. Kate Thompson-Maher, reflecting on her treatment journey, emphasizes the impact of available treatments in managing the disease. Ongoing research and development continuously introduce new therapeutic options that offer hope even when initial treatments may not be efficacious.

Taking It Step by Step

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Going through ovarian cancer surgery while considering family planning taught Kate Welsford the importance of taking things step by step. By breaking down the challenges into manageable pieces, the overwhelming nature of the journey can be mitigated. Instead of focusing on the entire process, tackling each problem and obstacle individually allows for a more effective mindset. This approach promotes resilience, empowerment, and a greater ability to address each issue proactively.

Finding Support in Various Forms

Taking care of one’s mental health is a crucial aspect of managing ovarian cancer. Fortunately, numerous options exist to alleviate anxiety and depression. Support groups provide a platform for learning from fellow individuals facing similar experiences, while private sessions with mental health professionals offer personalized assistance.

For Benita Dallas, maintaining an optimistic outlook is essential for her well-being. Working at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allows her to divert her attention away from anxiety and focus on helping others. Engaging in enjoyable activities like reading light-hearted material, watching comedies, and nurturing personal faith helps Dallas maintain a positive mindset. Moreover, friends, family, and counselors provide valuable support and courage that sustain her throughout this journey.


Living with ovarian cancer poses unique challenges, but insights from those who have faced the condition offer invaluable guidance to others on a similar path. By advocating for oneself, recognizing potential symptoms, seeking second opinions, and embracing manageable treatment options, individuals can navigate this journey with greater confidence. Remember, taking it step by step and finding support in various forms can lead to a more positive and empowered outlook on life.