Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, RN


April 09, 2015

Case Presentation: Sexual Concerns During Cancer Treatment

Orla is a 42-year-old woman diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. She has had surgery for removal of her ovaries and uterus, several cycles of chemotherapy, and most recently a clinical trial of intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Her oncologist has recently discussed with her the unfortunate news that the cancer seems to no longer be responding to the chemotherapy, that there is now metastasis to the pelvis, and that he is considering other potential clinical trials and radiation to the pelvis.

The nurse in the chemotherapy infusion center, Susan, who has cared for Orla for the past 3 years, notices that today she seems especially anxious and withdrawn, and that she has come in alone for treatment. As Susan begins talking with her, Orla shares that the illness and treatment are "really wearing on my marriage" and that "it was bad enough to have to have to quit my job; I can't even be a wife anymore." Susan listens as Orla confides in the stress of "not being able to have sex," and that after 3 years of the cancer and "now this," she doesn't know whether her marriage will survive.


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