Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, RN


February 02, 2015

Case Presentation: A Woman With Ovarian Cancer

Jean is a 68-year-old woman who has moved to the United States with her partner, Suzanne, whom she met in the Peace Corps. Jean was a lobbyist for an environmental advocacy organization. She has been diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer with liver metastasis and has a very poor prognosis.

Jean is being seen by the palliative care service for symptom management of her abdominal distention, pain, constipation owing to tumor involvement and opioid use, and severe nausea. She has declined chemotherapy and is hopeful that she will be able to return home soon.

Part of the palliative care team's initial comprehensive evaluation is a spiritual assessment. When the nurse asks Jean whether she has a religious affiliation, she replies that she is "SBNR." She then explains that she is "spiritual but not religious."

Jean says that she knows she will die of her disease but that it is very important to get her symptoms controlled because she has "work to complete," and she also wants as much time as possible for Suzanne's sake.


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