I would also like to add that she is 50 yrs old, if that makes any significant difference. Thanks again!
Sorry to hear your mother is going through this. Fear is a natural response to this, she will need support from her family to calm her down. You are right, this isnt the end of the world and I believe more women have cysts and ovaries removed than we realise. Surgery is scary though, for most the throught of it is worse than the actual surgery.
I am 23, had surgery to remove a huge cyst, ovary and tube in November. I am still recovering, so far without hormonal problems. I did not have a period in November though, but it could be caused by other factors such as anemia. I had a rough time in hospital, 2 surgeries, hemorrhage, extensive incisions, by no means a normal case.
Short term it is exhausting and painful, the first two weeks are really bad, but it took me about about a month for muscle pain to go away. Im still numb after having nerves cut, Im told it will come back in time. Constipation was a big problem for me as well, a side effect of painkillers. Your mother will need some time off work, how long will depend on what type of surgery she (may) get and how physical her job is. Also make sure she has someone to help her doing even the smallest duties such as cooking and cleaning, it will be too much and too heavy for a few days or weeks depending on her situation.
It sounds like the doctors are treating this as a benign cyst so far, waiting to see if it gets smaller. Scans and especially blood results are used to indicate if it is cancerous or benign, the doctors should have the results of those within days of the tests being done. If they thought it was cancerous, they would want it out asap, not wait 6 weeks.
It is possible for cysts to shrink on their own or with help from birth control pills, so it is very wise to wait and see if surgery is required. Cysts are a normal part of a woman's cycle, but they shouldnt grow or stay more than 3 months.
Age does matter, the risk of cancerous cysts are higher in women over 40 years and worse in women with menopause. The overall risk is less than 5% though. The type of treatment also change a bit, surgeons are more likely to perform laparoscopy (keyhole) or bikini (horizontal) laparotomy (open surgery) in young women, but in older women they prefer midline laparotomy (vertical, from the belly button to pubic bone) to get a better view of what is going on and in case they need samples from other areas to test for cancer etc.
If the cyst is benign, she may only need the cyst removed and can keep the ovary, tube and everything else. Sometimes the ovary and/or tube has been damnaged so much by the cyst it needs removed. Half ovaries may be removed, leaving the other half to produce hormones etc. She shouldnt loose both ovaries if the cyst is benign and assuming only one ovary is affected. If it is cancerous, she is likely to loose much more, both ovaries, tubes, womb, and would probably need hormone replacement drugs, which I believe affects one's everyday life quite a bit. The hysterectomy forum is better for information about that should it be required.
It is easy enough to find information about different types of cysts on the internet, so Ill not list them.
I probably didnt answer all your questions, but I hope this helps a bit.