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Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer: Easing the Stress & Managing Side Effects

Chemotherapy Side Effects: When to Call Your Doctor

Although you can handle minor side effects like nausea and fatigue on your own, call your doctor if you experience any of these more serious symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Significant nausea or vomiting
  • Signs of infection (redness, warmth)
  • Abdominal pain or other pain
  • Not passing gas or having bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches

"People don't need to call us for every little thing, but if there's something that's new and very different for them, and lasts for more than a few hours we do ask them to call the clinic so we can check it out," Armstrong says.

Coping With the Stress of Ovarian Cancer

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be emotionally draining. Add to that the concerns over your treatment, and the stress can really take its toll on you. "What we see anecdotally is that stress negatively impacts people's well-being while they're going through cancer treatment, but it may also impact their cancer," says Schmeler.

Every woman deals with the stress of her cancer differently, Armstrong says. While some become activists, joining ovarian cancer groups, and fighting back against their disease, others would rather not dwell on their illness.

How you relieve your stress is also a matter of personal preference. "I always tell people to do what makes them feel better," Schmeler says. Try whatever stress-relieving techniques work best for you, whether that's massage, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, or just talking to someone.

No matter how you deal with your disease, don’t make cancer the only focus of your life. "I tell people, 'Go ahead and live your life and do what you want to do,'" Armstrong says. If you've been planning a Caribbean cruise or trip to Europe, don't cancel it. Talk to your doctor about working your trip into your treatment plan. Then go and enjoy yourself.

Finally, if you're feeling depressed (i.e., sad, lack of interest in things you once enjoyed, decreased ability to concentrate), get help from a mental health expert.

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Reviewed on June 28, 2010

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