With an ovarian cancer diagnosis your body and mind will have been through a tough time. Keeping healthy after ovarian cancer is quite likely a priority of yours now, particularly if your treatment involved chemo and/or a hysterectomy or oophorectomy.
We have created a list of ways for keeping healthy after ovarian cancer, helping you to keep your body and mind strong after such an emotional and life changing time.
Tips for keeping healthy after ovarian cancer
1. Join support groups
Support groups on Facebook and other forums are incredible. You are immediately in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of women who have gone through a similar experience. While your family and friends will be there to talk, sometimes you need someone who understands the medical terms, the emotion and the effects ovarian cancer can have on a person.
It can feel like a very lonely time, but joining a support group can give you answers to questions as well as friendship. You don’t have to comment or ask questions, just by being in the group and seeing posts from women going through a similar experience can offer comfort and answers.
2. Choose private health care insurance
If you can afford it, private health care can be very useful. It can help you get treatment faster and easier access to specialists. The NHS is fantastic, don’t get us wrong, but if you can invest a little into private health care insurance it could prove to be very useful.
3. Get your hormone levels checked
If you can’t afford private health care, then consider having your hormone levels checked privately, particularly if you are not feeling yourself. This costs around £70-100 and is a simple test you can do at home. You then send your results off and they come back within a week.
A doctor analyzes them, however, if there is an issue you will need to see your GP and be referred. But, it gives you some knowledge to be armed with for when you see your doctor.
4. See a specialist
You are always entitled to see a specialist about a problem – without having to go private. If you feel like your issue isn’t being solved then ask for a second opinion. If it still isn’t solved, ask for a referral.
Doctors don’t always like to do this as it requires extra funding, however, you are well within your rights, so if something isn’t getting solved, don’t give up until you get to the bottom of it.
You know your body, you know what feels right and what doesn’t. If something is off, get it checked.
5. Avoid carcinogens
Carcinogens are cancer causing chemicals. The obvious ones are smoking and asbestos, both of which increase your risk of cancer.
Other ones you might not know about include:
- Burnt foods (found in my kitchen)
- Formaldehyde (found in furniture)
- UV rays (found in the sun and sunbeds)
- Alcohol (this can increase your risk of certain cancers)
- Eating lots of processed meat
- Smoking – if you are struggling to quit smoking, chat with your doctor. There are lots of options from nicotine replacement therapy to hypnosis (which I hear has a very good track record!)
If you have had a hysterectomy or oophorectomy then you will likely be in the surgical menopause. This is even more reason to start resistance training as your bone health can suffer post meno. Introduce light resistance bands, bodyweight and weights to your workouts and yoga sessions.
Overtime you can increase the weight you are lifting and the resistance of the bands. Resistance training is shown to help increase bone density, so very important to avoid brittle bones.
Not only does exercise help with your bone health and maintaining a healthy body weight, it also helps your mind.
Keeping healthy after ovarian cancer also means looking after your mental wellbeing, you’ve been through a lot!
Exercising a few days a week releases endorphins – the feel good hormones. They don’t call it a runner’s high for no reason!
7. Eat right
Eating a balanced and healthy diet can help with your health after ovarian cancer. Think fruits, veggies, whole foods and water.
One study found that diets higher in vegetables and fruit and lower in meat were associated with longer survival. If cutting meat out entirely isn’t for you, then try meatless monday, or only eat meat on a weekend. Find something that works for you! Do beware, rather than replacing the meat with soy based alternatives (like fake sausages, chicken etc) try choosing lentils, pulses, beans and chickpeas as a meat alternative.
While we are on the topic of eating right, you also want to get your supplements on point. Head over to supplements to take after a hysterectomy where we share the supplements Rachel takes and what they help with.
Keeping healthy after ovarian cancer
Keeping healthy after ovarian cancer is all about looking after your body and mind. Make sure you talk to people about what you are going through, whether that is support groups or to family and friends. Eat well and exercise.
And remember, if you feel your doctor is brushing you off, don’t take no for an answer.