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 Cancer

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Ovarian Cancer: Helping Caregivers
Communicate and Cope
By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer
(Page 2 of 4)  
 

Talking to Physicians and Other Treatment “Team” Members:
Going back to Combs’ hindsight of education, caregivers should proactively take steps to be involved in patient care and the treatment spectrum. Treatment for ovarian cancer can range from surgical procedures to chemotherapy to radiation and variations in between. In Combs’ case, “I had surgery only. I took methotrexate for about three months, but there wasn’t much ‘actual’ caregiving. I drove myself to appointments to have my blood tests monitored and followed up with my doctor.”

Learning about the risks of ovarian cancer, how it is diagnosed, staged and treated can make a difference in how a woman copes with her diagnosis. When a woman realizes that she is not alone in the doctor’s office to ask questions, her confidence can improve and she realizes that someone else is “in her corner.”

Between appointments there are many ideas and thoughts that may come to mind. Here are some ways to remember those for the next trip to the doctor’s office:

  • Keep a journal of questions and recent activities to share with the doctor
  • Keep a list of symptoms noticed between appointments
  • Research the latest material on ovarian cancer and ask the doctor about advances in science

Dr. Don Dizon, FACP, Assistance Professor, OB/GYN & Medicine at Brown Medical School is well-known for his work in clinical trials in ovarian cancer, yet he has interesting insights into the role of caregivers during the various phases of the disease. He offers this advice, “be willing to talk to the patient about their fears. Symptoms can change day-to-day, and the caregiver can help make sense of what is happening to the patient.” In addition, he notes that patients may need an advocate to help navigate the “maze” of medical jargon. One of the best ways that caregivers can do this is through educating themselves and then the patient about ovarian cancer.

Self-Care:

As the caregiver, you may find there are times when you will need to take a break from the everyday stresses. While you are not the one undergoing treatment, caregiving can take a serious toll. Some studies indicate that caregivers face stresses like:

  • Inability to control the situation their loved one faces
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Role confusion or sudden role changes (moving from spouse to caregiver or adult child to caregiver of a parent)
  • Not managing expectations – trying to do too much too quickly

 

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