Facebook Facebook Share

takingcareComplementary therapies

You might want to use complementary therapies alongside your hospital treatments, to help you relax or to ease symptoms and side effects. Some complementary therapies are common, like massage and acupuncture, and some you may not have heard of before. All of these therapies can help improve your mood and deal with problems like sickness or pain.

None of these therapies should replace your actual treatment, but they may give you an extra boost. As cancer is a complex condition, it is important to use a registered therapist and always keep your CNS and oncologist aware.

More support:
  • Most hospitals have links with a local cancer support centre which might offer a range of therapies on site for free.
  • Cancer Research UK has detailed information about each therapy on its website.
  • Therapy Directory connects you with a qualified therapist most suited to your needs. All the therapists on the website have shown proof of qualifications and/or membership with a professional body. They list many therapies from aromatherapy to reflexology. 

Physical activity and exercise

Being more active can help you with some of the side effects, such as fatigue, and can improve your emotional wellbeing too. You may have worries about becoming active but it’s proven to have fewer risks than being inactive.

  • Start by doing some form of exercise little and often, perhaps 10 minutes every day and gradually build up the amount you do.
  • Walking is free - start walking to your local shops instead of taking the car, or walk up and down your stairs more often.
  • Raise your legs and move your arms when watching TV, or put some music on and dance.
  • Many cancer centres offer gentle exercises such as yoga, tai chi and qi gong, whose trainers will have skills in working with people who have had surgery and/or chemotherapy.

Give it a go and find out what exercise you enjoy and what feels right for you. Get advice from your CNS or oncologist if you are unsure how much and what exercise you are OK to do. 

More support:

Macmillan Cancer Support has more information on physical activity online, or call 0808 808 0000. 

Diet and nutrition

Many women find themselves wondering whether their diet is linked to their diagnosis and they may feel they must make considerable changes in their eating habits. This is a perfectly normal reaction.

There is very little evidence that supports a diet specifically for those with ovarian cancer, but a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight can help you sustain your energy levels and improve your response to treatment.

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Try to limit the amount of red meat, replacing it with lean white meat, fish, beans and pulses.

Side effects and diet

If you are experiencing side effects of chemotherapy (such as nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite):

  • try eating small frequent meals and snacks, rather than three large meals each day
  • cold foods can help reduce cooking smells and therefore limit nausea
  • try eating slowly and sitting in an upright position
  • nourishing drinks such as fruit smoothies and milkshakes can help you maintain your weight

For more information on ovarian cancer, diet and nutrition, you can order or download our information guide on this topic. 

More support:

  • Ask your CNS or a dietician if you have any concerns, or want to know more about whether nutritional supplements may be right for you.
  • Maggie's Online Centre has a nutritional therapist you can ask questions of.
  • Penny Brohn UK has very good information on healthy eating.
  • The World Cancer Research Fund has excellent guides and downloadable cookbooks.

You may also find it helpful to listen to our Relaxation recordings to help you take some time for yourself. 

Find out more

This content is primarily taken from What happens next? 

What happens next?

Our expert guide answers your questions following a diagnosis, providing information on everything from treatment to taking care of yourself, and advice on where to find support in the months ahead.

The information on this page is approved by the Information Standard scheme to ensure that it provides accurate and high-quality information.


Last reviewed: November 2016
Next review: October 2019