Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, RN


July 17, 2018

A Spiritual Reassessment

Gwen is a 48-year-old black woman being treated in a community oncology clinic for late-stage uterine cancer. Her nurse, Maria, has been caring for her since her diagnosis 2 years ago. Gwen is in the clinic today for repeat scans to evaluate the response to her latest chemotherapy. On initial evaluation and in subsequent visits, Gwen has repeatedly declined chaplaincy services and has described herself as "spiritual but not religious." She has told Maria that "gardening and grandmothering are my religion."

Dr Levine has now met with Gwen and shared the dreaded news: The scan has revealed that the chemotherapy has not been effective and her disease has progressed. Gwen is now waiting while Maria prepares instructions for her next lab work and medication refills. When Maria goes to talk with Gwen, she finds Gwen to be, understandably, very serious and sad. When she enters the room it looks as if Gwen is bowing her head and saying a prayer. Maria sits by Gwen and acknowledges that this must be a really difficult time. Gwen says, through her tears, "That's for sure. It's been a while since I've prayed, so you know things must be bad," while attempting a laugh.


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