In July 2004, Lucía Gutierrez, a 56-year-old California woman, was completing chemotherapy for Stage 3 ovarian cancer. Although Lucía was in remission and felt she was receiving excellent health care, she contacted the center because she wanted more information about her prognosis. She had been told to “watch and wait,” a standard recommendation for patients with her diagnosis, but Lucía was not comfortable with this passive approach.
Center staff and students researched various treatment modalities with initially promising results. As we sifted through the research together, we considered treatment risks and benefits, as well as how a treatment regimen would affect Lucía’s life and her family. Center advocates also offered reassurance and support while Lucia narrowed her options to a few she would more carefully consider.
Lucía also had the chance to connect with director Meg Gaines, an ovarian cancer survivor herself who had taken one of the drugs Lucía was considering. After much consideration, Lucía decided to take this drug, which she felt gave her the best chance for long-term survival with the least disruption to her life.
Although the center cannot give medical advice, we are able to help patients sort through available data in order to weigh treatment options and help them make decisions with their doctors. This can be an overwhelming and confusing task, and is a common scenario we hear about.