Sandra, a 47-year-old divorced woman, received a diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer 4 years ago, for which she had a total hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo- oophorectomy, omentectomy, lymphadenectomy, and tumor debulking followed by chemotherapy, consisting of cisplatin (Platinol), paclitaxel (Taxol), and doxorubicin (Adriamycin). She did well for 2 years and then moved back to her hometown near her family and underwent three more rounds of secondline chemotherapy. She accepted a less stressful job, bought a house, renewed old friendships, and became more involved with her two sisters and their families. Sandra developed several complications, including metastasis to the lungs. Then she could no longer work, drive, or care for herself. She had been told by her oncologist that there was nothing else that could be done and that she should consider entering a hospice. She met her attorney and prepared an advance directive and completed her will. She decided to have hospice care at home and, with the help of her family, set up her first floor as a living and sleeping area. She was cared for by family members around the clock for approximately 3 days. Sandra observed that she was tiring everyone out so much that they could not really enjoy each other’s company. At this time, she contacted the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) to seek assistance. Her plan was to try to enjoy her family and friend’s visits. After assessment, the VNA nurse prioritized her problems to include fatigue and caregiver role strain. Other potential problem areas that may need to be incorporated into the care plan include anticipatory grieving and impaired comfort.
Reflective Questions 1. What are some of the stresses on Sandra’s middle-aged sisters and their families? 2. What resources are available to manage these stresses and support the sisters while caring for their dying sister Sandra? 3. Describe Sandra’s feelings about dependency and loss of autonomy because she is unable to do her own activities of daily living any longer
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