My 'Pillars of Support' During Ovarian Cancer

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After leaving an unsupportive support group for ovarian cancer, I finally found my pillars of support.

Image of a person holding the word "hope" with the ovarian cancer ribbon.

Dorcey shared her experience with her "fiercely dedicated, deeply caring tribe" from her ovarian cancer support group.

Finding a community of support has been a very hard process, although I have finally found my fierce, loving tribe.

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015 and underwent intraperitoneal (treatment administered into the abdominal organs) and intravenous (treatment administered via the vein) cisplatin and Taxol (paclitaxel), I did not have the energy to go to an evening gynecologic cancer support group at the hospital where I’d had my surgery.

I would not even have had the ability to get to a daytime group, if one was offered. I spoke with the coordinator at length to try to come up with a solution, but she was rigid about how things had to be done. Fast forward to a few months after my treatment was done, and I attended that group for about four to five months. It fell apart when the coordinator herself was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t all that supportive after all, anyway.

Following that, I participated in activities at a local cancer resource center, although not specifically a support group. My mother-in-law was dealing with cancer at that time and commented that, even with acute leukemia, she felt her situation was so much better than that of many people in her support group that she felt a bit out of place when she attended.

When I was diagnosed with a recurrence in 2021 and the world was on Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I became aware of the support groups offered by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) and the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. The NOCC group was local and turned out to be a more comfortable fit for me, somehow. Our local group has developed online over the past couple of years into a fiercely dedicated, deeply caring tribe, and we have even had our own unofficial small group meetings online to offer support to each other. The women in this group are truly my teal sisters, and the depth of empathy, common experience and knowledge we share with each other is profound and immensely supportive.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my group of friends, several of whom have had cancer at the same time I did. They have offered considerable support, as has a friend who began as a friend-of-a-friend some 25 to 30 years ago, but we became close when she called me to say she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer two years after I was. I served as a mentor through Imerman Angels to a woman in Chicago, and she has become one of my pillars of support as we both forge a new path through immunotherapy, although her cancer is now different from mine. The support I now receive from these two friends whom I supported truly demonstrates the principle of casting one’s bread upon the waters. I am very fortunate to have their support, as well as that of my teal sisters in the NOCC group.

This post was written and submitted by Liz Dorcey. The article reflects the views of Dorcey and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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