Understanding Prognosis: From Anger to Acceptance


I’m Barbara Siemion and I have been a
pancreatic cancer patient for seven years and one week today when I was
first diagnosed I didn’t think I’d get to see my granddaughter’s grow up and
mature to be young people and my seventh anniversary my oldest granddaughter 17
was in a play and I looked at her and all I could see was this young mature
woman that I had been wanting to see and there she was on the stage and it was a
an overwhelmingly exciting gratifying warm wonderful moment for me in my life
life before cancer I was involved I was a volunteer coordinator in a hospital in
Olympia Washington and enjoyed that and had a great lifestyle of ballroom
dancing and loved a garden have always gardened so I’ve been able to live and
be very active in my community and my with my family which is very important
family and friends are vital to my survival
anger at receiving a poor prognosis when I was told that I had the five months to
live and I awakened to the fact yes I’ve got five more months I became angry and
I still today do not believe anyone should ever be given the diagnosis of X
number of days or months to live I think patients get angry because we haven’t
offered the information in the context of a partnership about what we could do
or what we’re trying for you know every patient knows that we’ve you know we
don’t always get what we hope for but there is a best-case scenario in a
worst-case scenario and you can certainly talk about that and that’s the
information I think people come to us for find a doctor you feel safe talking
with the first time I met dr. Bach was very exciting for me because I felt very
safe having him as my oncologist I’m very candid with him and of course
my most emotional discussion is pancreatic cancer is spelled death and I
totally believe that I will know when I am going to die and I have told him that
when that day comes I will tell him she wants to know about everything that’s
going on with her but she doesn’t necessarily want me to say and this
means that prediction about your lifespan is X she would actually rather
have me leave that off it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to plan and in fact
she’s done a lot of planning I think it frees her up to do what she needs to do
and um from my point of view she’s done all the important preparation
I need she’s talked I know who to call if something happens all of a sudden I
know what she wants if the cancer gets really bad but she’s done enough
preparation now so that we don’t have to keep returning to it your doctor can
help you plan but can’t predict the course of your disease my advice to
people who are diagnosed with cancer whatever cancer whether pancreatic or
whatever talk to your doctor and tell your doctor how you feel and maybe it’s
not easy to hear what they have to say but we as cancer patients need to know
what is available for us and what we can use in our lives my philosophy of
pancreatic cancer is I am going to live I’m going to live every day as best I
can and and do the best I can for whatever I have in my life that day

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