Emotional Support

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My sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She has undergone a surgery (hysterectomy, BSO and omentum removal) and is now under chemotherapy treatment. She has been assigned 6 chemos in total and she is now at the middle of the treatment. I am very worried because although everything seems to be going well, she does not seem to cope very well emotionally. She is overly stressed and spends most of her time in bed doing nothing. She lacks motivation for doing anything and she always says that she is stressed and scared. she is also extremely scared that she might get infected with COVID or other viruses and prefers to isolate.

I am not sure how to help her. I have asked her to refer to a psychologist in the past but she felt she didn't get anything helpful out of it. I am worried she might get depressed. What can I say to her to help her realise that is all going quite well and that she should be positive? How can I motivate her to do small tasks so she doesn't spend all her day in bed? Unfortunately, she is not in the UK with me so all our communication is through phone and video calls. Her family are also very worried.

  • Hi @tzet,

    Thank you for posting on the Macmillan Community, I’m so very sorry to hear that your sister is going through this, and you too tzet, it must be so difficult for you especially with her being so far away that you can’t be physically with her, I can only imagine how you must be feeling.  It’s very common for people to struggle when first diagnosed and often into treatment and beyond, it can be distressing for loved ones to see them like this and of course it’s important, as you’re obviously doing, to try to help and encourage them but sometimes tzet, they just need time to come to terms with and process what they’re going through and hopefully, in time it will get easier. 

    It's really important that your sister is in touch with her GP or medical team so that they’re aware of how she is feeling, they can look into ways of helping her and refer her to the right support if necessary.

    From what you’ve said it sounds like the fear of infection is having an effect on your sister and it’s understandable that she wouldn’t want to go out in case she get’s any infection, this of course limits where she can get help but there are lots of things that can be done from the safety of their own home. 

    You mentioned therapy, I understand that she didn’t feel it worked the first time but as circumstances change so can the affect that therapy has so it might be good to encourage her to look at this again, it can be done over the phone or video calls so maybe that’s worth looking into.

    Medication and mindfulness can also be effective tools, there are some great apps available that you could perhaps look at and suggest as well as books and audio books too.  She might also benefit from yoga, again there are online courses and apps that she could access from home, this could help her mental and physical wellbeing.

    We have some good booklets that you could have a read of tzet, they’re all available online for you to download and they cover all aspects of the emotional effects of cancer and talk about ways to overcome them.  There are also ones on talking to someone with cancer which offers advice on what and what not to say and how to help loved ones that you may find useful.  Here's a link so that you can have a look, your sister could even access it and have a look too.

    Booklets on Emotional effects of Cancer

    I also wanted to mention our Online Community, your sister should be able to access this too, it may be good for her to talk to others who are in a similar situation, obviously any specific information or medical advice may not be applicable to the country she lives in, but it may help her to just chat to others who are going through their cancer journey.

    Finally, tzet, I want you to know that we are here to support you too, as I mentioned in the beginning this must be so difficult for you and if you ever need to chat or talk we are here for you, every day from 8am to 8pm please reach out to us for support.

    Vicky, Information and Support Adviser

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.