Ovarian cancer is a devastating and lonely diagnosis. Being less common than some other cancers, and with survival rates so low, it can be hard to find other women out there living with the disease. Especially women that may share a similar story.
I found it particularly difficult to find a community when I was first diagnosed, especially one that included younger women like myself with young kids. The following services I found quite useful, I hope that they can help you too. Some people prefer face to face groups, others like social media, hopefully there is something for everyone out there.
- Ovarian Cancer Australia. Online Connect forum, local area support groups, webinars, events. The Sydney Support Group meets about once a month on Monday afternoons on Pitt St (in the CBD).
- Ovarian Cancer Aussies and Kiwis Support Group Australia NZ. A very supportive and informative Facebook group of women. I found this group very helpful when going through treatment.
- Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance Support Group Inspire. This is a brilliant, informative online community. It is a very comprehensive site as it connects women and carers from all over the world. This site gave me hope as there are survivors with stage 4 disease on here.
- “Ovarian Cancer Young Survivors” Facebook group.
- “Ovarian Cancer Together!” American Support Facebook Group. Diagnosed with a rarer type of ovarian cancer I found this site useful as there is a greater number of women on here.
- Survivors Teaching Students is a wonderful volunteer program that brings the faces and voices of ovarian cancer survivors and caregivers into the classrooms of medical and nursing students. I have been involved with this program since it launched in Australia, and have found it an invaluable way to process my diagnosis. It is great to feel like I am making a difference and using my cancer for a greater cause. You really are saving lives by teaching future nurses and doctors about ovarian cancer signs and symptoms, and what ovarian cancer patients and caregivers need. The ANZGOG team and volunteers involved are a beautiful, caring bunch of people too. A lovely group to be connected to. I felt very supported by them all whilst volunteering.
- Look Good Feel Better. A free workshop which teaches you how to manage the appearance-related side-effects caused by treatment. You get makeup, scarf, and wig tips in a warm, supportive environment run by lovely volunteers. A nice way to connect with other people facing cancer. And you get a really cool goody bag with makeup and beauty products to take home!
- A dedicated social worker at your hospital should be able to go over any financial support available and other services.
- A psychologist or counsellor specialising in cancer is a great help. I was fortunate to have access to this service for free at my amazing hospital The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Try different specialists until you find one that you like.
- Friends and Caregivers often get overlooked but they need support too. Information will soon be available in this section.
- Cancer Council Australia. I didn’t use them but they can point you to lots of support services.