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Meet Jan

"My husband was a rock throughout. We had a few long talks and agreed that the only way to cope was to be totally honest and open with each other about fears and feelings."

From telling family and friends, to exploring therapies such as relaxation, we offer advice for women facing an ovarian cancer recurrence.   

Sharing the news

If family or friends are with you when you receive the news of your recurrence, sharing this information may happen naturally. For some women who receive the news when alone, sharing it may feel like an extra burden. There is no right or wrong way to share these details, or what you choose to share. You may want to wait for a few days, weeks or more before you tell others, or you may want to ask someone close to you to let others know on your behalf. 

Reactions of others

You may have found from your initial ovarian cancer diagnosis that people around you can react in very different ways. Some people may be wary of raising the subject with you, while others will want to talk about nothing but your diagnosis.

  • Don’t be afraid in either case to let people know when you do, or don’t, want to talk.
  • You may find that people around you attribute labels such as ‘brave’ and ‘courageous’. They may tell you they could never cope as you have. The reality is we all cope in our own way with what life throws at us.
  • Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that initially at least, responses from others will vary but are likely to be well intended.

Both you and your family and friends may have challenging moments while coming to terms with your news. If you are finding this particularly hard, take a deep breath. We cannot control other people's reactions and emotions. 

It may be that encouraging your family members to speak to your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) would help them to understand your diagnosis and some of their own anxieties. This may help them to better support you. Being able to talk honestly about your different needs will help at this time. 

Concern for family members

Talking to children

You may be afraid of telling your children that your cancer has come back, but it is often better to be honest with them from the beginning. You can try to help young children come to terms with the return of your ovarian cancer through play or books. Older children might have lots more questions and need more time to come to terms with your news. You know your children best, so you can speak to them in a way that they will understand. 

If you or your children are finding this time very difficult, your CNS may be able to put you in touch with a family worker to help support you all. 

Genetic testing and hereditary ovarian cancer

It is a common reaction is to worry that your daughter, grandaughter or sister could be at risk of developing ovarian cancer. If you are worried about this and particularly if you have other women in your family affected by breast or ovarian cancer, it is a good idea to speak to your GP, oncologist or CNS about genetic testing. You can also read our information on family history and ovarian cancer.

Asking for practical support

Being faced with the prospect of having to go through cancer treatment again may feel like an impossible challenge to cope with. Having low energy levels can make life difficult, so asking others for practical help such as running errands or assisting with shopping or travel can be invaluable. Many people are happy to help in this way. 

  • Think about asking friends, colleagues or neighbours.
  • If you are part of a strong local community or faith group, seek practical assistance from them. 
  • Look to see if your local council offers transport services to/from the hospital.
  • Check with your local hospital information centre, CNS or GP to find out about local services.

accessing additional helpAccessing additional help and support

Perhaps you have already visited a cancer support centre of have used complementary therapies. Maybe you have not felt the need to access additional support but you feel now that you would benefit from some extra help. There are lots of ways to get some support.

Target Ovarian Cancer

Online support

Many charities have forums you can join to read about other people's experiences and share your feelings.

Support centres and hospices

Many hospitcals offering cancer treatment will either have their own or a charity-run cancer support centre (such as Macmillan or Maggie's) onsite, or they may be a local cancer support centre or hospice nearer to your home. 

  • Speak to your CNS or oncologist about the support that is available
  • Use our search tool to look for support centres, and support groups, near you

Other professional support

You may find it helpful to seek professional support to help you deal with your feelings and emotions. There are plenty of options available, including counselling, psychological support, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. 

Cancer affects your mind and emotional wellbeing, as well as your body. Some people may become depressed or suffer from anxiety. When we feel this way it can seem impossible to explain our feelings to others, or to ask for help. Often people think that they shouldn’t bother their CNS or GP about their feelings. It’s important to look after yourself emotionally as well as physically so do let people know if you need some help at this time.

Find out more

This content is primarily taken from our guide, Back here again

Back here again

Our expert guide offers practical advice and information to help you cope with an ovarian cancer recurrence.

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


Last reviewed: January 2017
Next review: December 2019