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Coping mechanism?

I joined ovacone last year when first diagnosed with stage 3b OC.

I had a lot of support from you lovely ladies but eventually just found I couldn't stay. I'm not sure why. Maybe a reluctance to accept what has happening. I shut myself off to any support. I couldn't read or watch anything to do with cancer. My experience with NHS and staff has not been positive. I have 3 friends with stage 4 cancer and just found it all too much.

I have now recovered from surgery. Finished chemo. Had my first 3 month check up which was positive and I'm now back at work full time.

I have re joined this forum and have been reading all your posts.

You are all so amazingly positive.

I admire each and everyone of you.

I'm just finding it so hard to move on.

What are all your coping mechanisms ?

My father died 4 weeks ago from misdiagnosed lung cancer. 7 weeks from diagnosis to the day he passed away.

I'm struggling to feel any positivity.

I don't mean to bring so much doom and gloom.

My life is a good one. I have a beautiful family. Fantastic friends. Supportive work environment.

I just need to find the joy of life again.


37 Replies

Hi lovely and welcome back,

I think the main coping mechanism is getting used to the new norm once that's done then taking each day as it comes when my special person was 1st diagnosed we all shut down due to the shock we even visited the funeral directors 2 days after initial diagnosis that was 2 years and 4 months ago she's since had 2 reoccurrences and lives each day as it comes ♥️ Xxx


I think that's right - trying to find a new norm. It's so far removed from your old norm that it's hard to grasp.

I know I have so much good in my life it's just so hard to shake off the bad.

Thank you so much for replying. X

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Hi Sarah, I know where you are coming from. If I see a cancer advertisement on tv, even if it's asking for help I turn over just can't cope with it. I don't want to be constantly reminded of cancer. I also know quite a few people that have had cancer.

My friend had bc & she has been doing so well which has lifted me. Then yesterday she mention a bone scan she had last Wednesday because she might have bone cancer. I left my friend feeling so sh*t can't anyone with cancer be free of it.?

I am so sorry to hear about your dad you have gone through so much.

At least you are back on the forum. Try & take every day as it comes it is a very slow progress to get your body & mind back into a so called good place. Please don't beat your self up too much when you feel low it's all part of it. Take care Cindyxx


Thank you Cindy. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. It's scary how many people are suffering. Not just the souls with cancer but all the family and friends that are supporting us.

I'm tapping into the forum now and reading everyone's posts is actually uplifting. Lots of sad posts but I'm so overwhelmed how very brave everyone is. Xx


Hi Sarah

I am so sorry to hear about your father , it's no wonder you are feeling as you do with everything you have had to cope with . I read the posts on this forum for a long time and only posted once I was recovering from my surgery , probably a bit in denial . Have you had any counselling , I got very down after my firstline chemo stopped. It is very common, you physically start feeling better so come out of survival mode running on adrenaline and your brain then goes into meltdown .

I have lots of support from families and friends but it really helped talking to a professional . Am also about to start a stress and relaxation course and on the waiting list for a fear of reccurance course . Not really a wreck !! There is help available but you do have to seek it out . Either through CNS referral at hospital or Macmillan .

Also good to keep busy and fill your time with things you enjoy . We got a rescue dog and love walking .

On top of everything you are now dealing with the shock and grief of losing your father and can only imagine how this has hit you . Life can be so cruel .

My friend and neighbour lost her husband in a tragic drowning accident whilst on holiday and this knocked me for six during my recovery but has also shown me that life is precious and nobody knows what's around the corner with or without a cancer diagnosis.

It is a year since my shock stage 4 diagnosis, ( whilst on holiday in Mauritius! ) almost 6 months since end of chemo ( now on Avastin ) currently NED . And as a lovely lady posted on here recently determined not to give OC the satisfaction of anymore room in my brain ! And make the most of my good days .

You do need to give yourself time to grieve your lovely dad but do get some professional help . We are also here for you whenever you feel like a chat

Wow sorry for the essay ! 💜Love Kim x

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hi laurelsx,

I completely understand where you are coming from. I was diagnosed in February. I was very fit, a mature athlete and I was thinking this can't be true, my training is going so well, I don't feel ill and I just won a competition 3 week earlier. It was such a shock!

I couldn't tell anyone because a didn't want to be defined as 'that person with cancer' I felt a fraud too because I ate like an elite athlete...clean, never smoked, didn't drink alcohol and did plenty of exercise. How could this of happened to me, wasn't I protecting myself from illness? Well obviously not!

I too thought I cannot join any group or forum. Not in denial but not going to acknowledge the illness either. This is the only group I belong to because it's so positive and supportive. I find it difficult to talk about the illness but I did manage to watch this weeks episode of Hospital where Nicky (on here) shared her story.

I really don't want to be defined by cancer and it's limitations so I workout at the gym as I've always done 5x a week. Some days are better than others. The owner of the gym is giving me weekly free Personal Training sessions to maintain my fitness and to keep my place on the Cycling Team. That really keeps me focus and pushes me to maintain fitness, which I think has helped me through my journey.

This is how I'm coping. I try to think only of today because that's all we have! Non of us know, healthy or not, what will happen tomorrow. I try to think of this as a chronic illness that I will manage for the rest of my life. We all have to live with this diagnosis whether we get remission or not. I try to put it in a box, know in my heart, that I will deal with it "if and when" it recurs. It's there in the back of my mind but it doesn't take over my life.

We are all stronger than we realised. We have all coped. Having done the treatment, we know what to expect if it recurs and we have so far survived 100% of the days since diagnosis and that's a great track record! It's a struggle but I try put those fears aside and deny that monkey on the shoulder permission to chatter. Refuse to listen. Have a mantra, I can and will live life to the full without fear. The more I say it the more I believe.

Having just recently lost your Dad I can understand how low you are feeling. Please try to stay positive. If you have a Maggie Center near you, they are awesome too. They have a "what next" program to help people just like you that feel vulnerable after finishing chemo. They also have free Clinical Psychologists if you want to have a chat about coping.

This link may help you to understand what you are going through post chemo and trying to make sense of what just happened.

Hugs JJ xx


If the link doesn't work google:-

After the treatment finishes then what? By Dr Peter Harvey


Hi JJ. What a shock for you too.

I think that's what is so devastating about cancer. It's not just because of smoking or unhealthy life styles.

I have never smoked and I don't drink. (I know that's odd !!). I am very fit and eat very healthily. Have never had anything wrong with me most of my life. We have a little dog so walk lots.

It was a complete shock and I think you try and find a reason why it happened. What did I do ? But there is no rhyme or reason for most causes of OC.

I watched the episode of Hospital. It took me 2 days as I cried my way through most of it. Nicky is incredibly brave and positive. An inspiration

I feel I have googled, read and watched so much about OC in the last few weeks. Not sure it's helped because most of the information out there is pretty daunting.

I don't want to talk to family or friends as don't want them worrying about how I feel. And I don't want them to feel I'm this person that is perpetually sad. You put on a brave face outside the home. In my shower I sob uncontrollably.

Maybe I do need to look into counselling but part of me thinks I will feel worse by accepting I'm not coping and having to talk about it all.

I was so strong and positive through all the treatment and operation. I'm not sure why it's all hit me now.

But ...... you have all given me inspiration and positivity. I do need to just take one day at a time.

And I will continue to come here.

Thank you xxx


Take a look at the link I sent in my post. I don't actually think the link works but if you google

"after the treatment finishes then what" by Dr Peter Harvey

It explains everything perfectly. Remember it's ok to cry. I do all the time and then once I've got it out, I dust myself down and get on with it. We are not "who we were" we are different with new values. There's a lot to process. I think you are doing better than you realise. It sounds exactly as explained in Dr Harvey's explication. You could even pass it on to family and friends to read so they know what is going on in your head without you having to explain.

Hang in there, it's going to get better. I'm hot on your tail. I finish with chemo6 in two weeks and then I'm going to be afloat in no mans land too! Counselling is a great tool and one of the benefits (what there are some 👀😉) of having cancer, is you can get fast access to a psychologist at a Maggie's Centre rather than waiting weeks via your GP.

Hugs to you, we're all in this together 🤗


JJ, I really understand what you say. My wife's reaction was the same as yours. She just determined to carry on as normal and not let the cancer get in her way. She didn't want to join any groups, as she said she didn't want the cancer to define her. She was however very self conscious about having cancer and didn't want anyone to view her differently so for a long period we only told those who really needed to know. People often give the advice that you need to take one day at a time. In reality there are period where you can look beyond that to weeks even months, and if you are feeling good perhaps even years.



Penny Brohn centre in Bristol is also excellent and has been recommended by many . Kim x

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Thank you. I have just looked up the centre. X


Hi Kim. I can't imagine how your friend coped after loosing her husband in such a tragic way. It makes me realise that I have to make the most of everyday of my health. Life is so precious and can be so short. I know I need to start waking up with all the positives and not concentrate on the negatives. It just weighs you down.

But I can honestly say everyone here is helping and that I wish I had come back so much sooner.

I hope you continue to feel well and positive Kim. Thank you. Xx

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Hi Sarah and welcome back. I understand how you feel and it is the new norm for all of us. My friends were organising a charity event and tbh I asked them to cancel it. For me at the moment it's just too much. I'm just NED for 3 months at 3C.

I personally have continued to work and almost do my usual things, at some point I guess I was in denial but I did remain positive most of the time. I did have meltdowns and sobbed on my own.. I don't know why I just did. You have had so much to deal with and completely understand it's just all too much. Just take one day at a time with a deep breath. Much love Michelle xx


Hi Michelle. I think one day at a time is good advice. I just want to be 'me' again. I want that joy of life to come back.

I know I am so very grateful that so far all is well. I know there are lots of people out there suffering far more than I am.

Time to be strong and positive. Xx

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I went back to work as soon as I could. I find it easier to keep busy.

I think I was in denial too. Just put it down to an illness. Didn't ever really consider how serious it was. The nurse at one point did ask me if I completely understood everything! Yes I did. Of course. But easier not to think about it.



Hi Sarah - I'm so sorry to hear about your father, it's a lot to deal with on top of everything you have been through. It's a double shock and I'm not surprised you are struggling to feel positive.

I know you said you were reluctant to try counselling but it might be worth doing, I saw someone after my Dad died and it was really helpful. I know you say you don't want to admit you're not coping but you have been through a lot and most people would struggle to cope. Have you seen your GP to talk about how you feel? I'm normally really anti drugs but I have heard that a short course of anti depressants can be very effective for dealing with short term shock of cancer/bereavement. Completely understand if you don't want to go down that route either...I'm usually not keen but am thinking about it as an option in the current circumstances.

Do keep us posted on how you are doing.

Andrea xxxx


Hi Andrea. I'm going to call someone on Monday and try counselling. It can't hurt can it. And I've spent the day reading lots of posts on here. Lots of inspiring woman. It's made me feel better. Talking to people other than family and close friends helps. Knowing you all understand the feelings. Xx


Hi a Sarah ..

I have struggled to deal with the loss of people around me, particularly people I loved here. It's taking a long time as, even though this disease is hard, my grieving has been slow. I don't think I'll recover fully from it.

I try to immerse myself in nature. My hubble and I are looking after 4 red squirrels at the moment. They're almost weaned and due for release. Plus, we have a sick goat. I find it more rewarding to look out rather than in.

I can understand you not coming here. Personally, I like it here as it's a place of understanding. I can also understand why you came back.

When we meet friends here, the outcomes aren't always as we hope but I've never regretted the bonds I've formed. I think about the people I met a lot.

Having cancer has been life changing. I'm not the person I was but I hope everyone I've met has helped me be the person I want to be. I hope that new person is a little bit worthy of that.

Sending hugs..

Sue xxx


Hi Sue. I think you are right maybe I wasn't ready to accept that I have OC. I think once I'd had the operation then the chemo, in my mind I thought that was it. Finished. I naively thought my life would bounce back to the way it was. I got very frustrated and sad that my body wouldn't work quite the way it did before. Side effects from chemo etc. It's a brutal operation and treatment isn't it.

I've taken so much from just all your replies.

I love that you are nurturing red squirrels. And bless the little goat.

My little dog has never left my side through treatment. They know when you are poorly don't they.

I need to be strong to show my dad I'm ok. He was more worried about me than about himself.

Thank you Sue. Xx


Hi Sarah,

When I first came onto Ovacome I thought it might be too depressing for me but decided to stick with it for a while and see what happens. I think we're all frightened and want reassurance that everything is going to be okay. For some of us it won't be, there's no getting away from it but for the majority we will go on for years and the only thing stopping us enjoying our lives again is the constant reminder of cancer every time you turn the tele on or hearing regularly that someone else has been diagnosed with a cancer.

I have lost four friends with cancer since my diagnosis, all different cancers. I live in a cul du sac and there are only twenty houses in our road and seven of us have had or have got cancer. It's everywhere.

All we can do is live as normal a life as possible. There are many good things to concentrate on (although you wouldn't think so if you see the news on TV). You could try to learn something new. That concentrates the mind. I have been lucky to have a new grandson, my first, so that takes up time.

At first I had to force myself to do things, now it's all part of my routine. I'm learning to play guitar. I go to plays and concerts. I go out for meals with friends and neighbours.

Something must be taking my mind off it because one day I was saying to a friend what an awful year she was having and she said to me, 'it's nothing to what you've had' and I replied, 'why what's happened to me?'. I couldn't believe it when I realised I'd forgotten all about my illness.

Sorry this is so long and probably no help but I'm so positive I wish I had a magic wand to transfer some of it on to others.

All the best,

Zena x

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Hi Zena. Cancer is such a huge part of most people's lives now. It's quite scary. I thought I was doing ok until my dad passed away. It was very quick from diagnosis until the end. Such a shock. Just feels helpless at times.

Scared for myself and everyone else.

Feels like a time bomb.

Trying to positive for my 3 friends with cancer is easier than being positive with myself.

I think like you I just need to try and keep busy all the time. Not let the thoughts in.

I dig up some of my garden yesterday so I can transfer plants from dads garden to mine. It does help.

Thank you. Xx


So sorry, Laura, to hear about your dad. Unfortunately this happens to all of us at some stage. I don't know about you but do you tend to feel a bit of guilt when someone else dies of cancer. I know I shouldn't but I can't help feeling uncomfortable when I'm at their funerals. It does pass and I know I'm lucky to still be here and there's nothing I can do about their loss.

I'm so lucky and keep telling myself it's not my time yet. That day is in the distant future. People go of all sorts of things and all sorts of ages. None of us know when thank goodness.

Worrying about others doesn't help them or us but I think it's part of being human. Just do whatever you feel you need to that helps. What helps one person doesn't necessarily help another. We are all individuals with different life spans and different dreams.

I'm sure your dad wouldn't want you to be suffering more. Think of the good times you had together. My friend put a picture of her husband on her side table with fresh flowers and speaks to him every day. That is her comfort. I like that idea.

Keep healthy and busy,

Best wishes,

Zena x


Hi Sarah

I have written very little recently on the forum as I have been dealing with recurrence and now waiting for scan results. I just had to reassure you that your feelings are very common. I'm sorry to read about your dad as that alone must cause so much grief and distress. I was first diagnosed in 2011 with PPC and after chemo I remained NED until last years recurrence in my lymph nodes.

You describe so perfectly that feeling of isolation when you finish treatment and told to come back in three months. Your hospital support system is no longer there to hold your hand and you are left with the new reality that you had cancer. For me I coped by keeping busy, going to a support group and keeping a daily journal. Last thing every night I wrote all the worries and stresses of the day out of my head. I also wrote the good things . I also have a psychologist attached to my oncology unit who has talked me through tha bad times. I also learned mindfulness at my support group which is really helpful. I learned tai chi which I practice very badly as my middle name is not Grace !

You will get there Sarah. You seem to have wonderfully supportive family and friends. That is invaluable. The article by Dr Peter Harvey that someone suggested is really good as he empathises with cancer patients. Take care and look forward with hope.



I think it's living with the fact that it's likely to recur. But we don't know when. My first 3 month check up I was told that. Wasn't a very uplifting appointment. I went in all excited expecting to be told well done. They said CA125 was good. No need for a scan so that was poisotice then gave me all the symptoms of recurrence to look out for.

I think it hit then that this is something we all live with. I wasn't ever going to be told that's it.

But reading everyone's posts all weekend has really really helped. You are all so strong. So positive. And live your lives to the full each day.

When you feel low you come here and gain all the support.

I think dad passing just brought it all back. The word cancer. Missing him so dreadfully and hating cancer. That it's the disease Ive tried hard to beat took him away from me.

A friend gave me a mindful book and CD. I have got it out and read the first chapter.

I was busy in the garden yesterday.

Small steps but I feel now I have to do something for dad.

Thank you. Xxx


For every happiness, there is a sorrow. Sometimes they happen almost simultaneously. Makes your emotions bounce around like a yoyo. It's easy to get lost that way. Keep looking for the beautiful, funny, interesting, helpful, colorful, things in life to counteract. Get more rest. Do less housework. Throw junk away, including emotional junk. Throw a shirt away just because it's dirty and you don't want to wash it. How about them apples?

Now that I've read thru this for spelling errors, I've decided to take my own advice. Hope it works for you too. Blessings, Eileen

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Hi Eileen. Yes emotions are the complicated part. I think dad passing so suddenly has brought everything out. I know a lot of it is grieving for him. Missing him.

I'm not sleeping so thoughts run mad at night.

But we do have to look at the positives.

I know it will get easier. I know I will hopefully see that life can be wonderful.

Thank you. Xx


Dear Sarah,

Please don't apologise for coming in and out of the forum. We all need to protect ourselves sometimes. You've had some awful news regarding friends and loved ones. Losing your father so quickly after diagnosis must be a tremendously shock.

I wonder if you have a counselling service at your hospital? Perhaps your oncologist or cns can refer you. There's the grief of losing your dad, close poorly friends and your own diagnosis. That's a great deal to bear.

T. X


There is a Macmillan centre at my hospital. The appointments are only during the day. I've had so much time off work and now I'm back it's hard to keep taking more time off for appointments. I work in a school so it's difficult. But I've google a few counsellors over the weekend that can do evening app.



Hi and welcome back,

I'm so very sorry you lost your dad to cancer, this bloody disease is so indiscriminate in its choice of person, it's just so very unfair but then life isn't fair on so many levels. This sadness with your dad on top of your own diagnosis and treatment must have been so very difficult for you to deal with. I can understand your dilemma and moving forward is very difficult as some of the other lovely ladies and their supporters have said we now have a new normal, it's a difficult one to adjust to but it's something many of us have done and you will in time, time is the best resource we have for healing both physically and mentally once treatment ends. I don't believe that life ever feels the same again and this is why we all call it our 'new normal' .

I bought a new T Shirt recently which has a saying on it and one that I feel it really helped me it is this - 'the devil whispered in my ear "you're not strong enough to withstand the storm" today I whispered in the devils ear "I am the storm", it then says ovarian cancer warrior underneath with the teal ribbon symbol. I just think this kind of sums up our battle with cancer.

You have been through so much both physically, mentally and personally and it does take time. I believe we have to re-evaluate our life and look to the positive, we've battled, we've cried (still can from time to time for no reason) we've supported and been strong for our family too through all this and now it's all done so what's next?. This is possibly where you're at at the moment and it is hard but you will get there, I did, many of us have, it's just so early and still raw for you but you will get there, one day at a time. You possibly need a little counselling both for your own cancer battle and also for your recent bereavement. Speak to your care team, they can really help.

I hope you find some answers very soon and are able to move forward. Take lots of care, you're already counting your blessings which is positive. ❤️Xx Jane

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Jane thank you so much. It is unfair. It's unfair how many people the nasty disease affects.

But as you said life is unfair to so many people. I know I should be and I am so very grateful for everything and everyone I have. It's just hard when so many people are hurting.

I could hit rock bottom and I think I was on that path which is why i signed up again to this forum.

I hope one day I can be the one offering support to others. Xx


Hi Sarah and welcome back. I'm sorry about your dad. The loss of a parent is always difficult to deal with but I imagine it must be worse when you've been given an advanced cancer diagnosis. Please accept my condolences.

You are obviously doing really well, being back at work already after your treatment. Please don't expect too much from yourself too soon though. slow and steady does it.

Wishing you all the best. Ann xx

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Thank you Ann. Slow and steady I think is the way to go. Xxx

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Hi Sarah, my name is Liz. I was diagnosed with stage 3c clear cell ovarian cancer in 2014. It's crazy but my husband was more upset than I. My job is a tough physical job at times. I never thought that I was going to die from this disease. If I felt myself starting to have feelings that a pity party was coming. I just say Liz, snap out of it. There's always people in worse situations, your alive now you need to live for today, and tomorrow will come. I have other friends most breast cancer survivors. Before this group I felt alone. Now i and you have all these wonderful woman whom we've never met, but I consider my friends in arms. Everyday we fight for the next. We are a team, together we survive. You are blessed. You are a soldier with us. We together will overcome. Stay positive. Keep in touch. We will all I'm power each other.


Hi Liz. What a lovely reply. Thank you.

You are right. There are many people suffering out there. And we are alive. And we must live our life.

Since I can back here I read the posts every day. I can honestly say it's helped me massively. You do feel alone. I haven't actually met anyone who has or has had OC. Most people haven't heard of it.

And I think family and friends suffer as much as we do.

I was so happy that I was able to tell my dad how well I was before he died. He worried so much it broke my heart.

I will stay positive. Xxx


It can be difficult being positive sometimes. It seems every time you switch the TV on there's an advert for cancer. I joined this group because of something on TV. Someone mentioned something that gave me the heeby jebies (however you spell that) and I called Macmillan which resulted in me joining Ovacome.

I've been cancer free for just about four years now and tried to be positive mainly because of family. I think being strong for them has made me stronger. I get on with life and in some ways do more than I would have done if I hadn't had cancer. It gives me that don't worry about doing things feeling because I'm lucky to be here to do them.

I sometimes get that survivors guilt feeling when I go to funerals of other cancer friends/family. They all had different cancers to me. Cancer brings people closer and small things don't matter so much any more. It can be a positive experience although it doesn't seem like it at the time.

Wish you all the best, Zena J xx


Sarah/Laurel, I know your post is over 4 months old, but I was struck by the huge losses you have experienced. The loss of your father alone is a hugely traumatic event. It is further compounded by misdiagnosis and that he died from cancer. Having multiple friends with stage 4 cancer is another HUGE loss. Having ovarian cancer and treatment is another loss. Being alive to grieve all this is a WIN. Feeling sad and poorly in response to these events is to be expected. Allow yourself to mourn. Meanwhile, since you posted this awhile back, I hope you've been taking it easy, spending time doing what you love and enjoying the rest of your family. You sound quite grounded. Recall fond memories and know that your Dad would want you to keep enjoying life.


Thank you so much for your caring reply. So kind of you.

It’s been a really awful couple of years.

Being told on January this year that I was in remission was wonderful. Then it all went downhill after that with my poor dad. Then the news of my friends.

Sadly the year only got worse. My friends son was killed in a traffic accident whilst travelling in Bali. That was after her loosing a baby in mid pregnancy.

I’ve cried so much this year. And weirdly have never cried once over my own cancer.

It’s been hard to not to feel hopeless. Hard to not feel depressed.

I can’t believe how much my life has changed in such a short time. But I have to be positive. Life is so very short. We have to be able to make the most of each and every day.

Coming back to this forum helps so much. Even if I don’t post a lot I read every post you all make.

Sarah x

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