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Confidence through Care: Finding Hope and Healing with Siteman

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As an actuary, Ann likes data. Probabilities. Trends. She spends her days analyzing risk and uncertainty, so when it came to her breast cancer diagnosis, Ann sought a care provider that would fulfill the needs of her body and mind.  

“My doctor told me that it looked like it could be cancer. I said, ‘What probability?’ She said, ‘Oh, you know, 60%.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Well… that’s not good.’” 

“So, my next question was: ‘Will I survive?’  

It had been years since Ann had been to the doctor. The busyness of life and work meant that regular physician check-ups had fallen by the wayside. Suddenly, a routine breast exam was followed by a mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy, confirming a diagnosis that would change Ann’s life forever. 

With reassurances from her general practitioner, Ann set out to find a home for her care and a better understanding of her condition. While Ann finds numbers and statistics useful data, she wanted to be more than that to her physicians— instead, she wanted to be an engaged partner in her own care. Ann found what she was looking for at Siteman Cancer Center. 

“For me, the difficult part was the mental aspect of cancer, but my doctors made sure that I was well-informed. They made the decision to go with Siteman easy.”

“Dr. Margenthaler was so reassuring. She’s just got a wonderful combination of being comforting and kind while also being so good at what she does. Dr. Bose addressed my concerns and always took the time to do the extra research when I asked for it.” 

In keeping with Ann’s penchant for statistical examination, she created what she affectionately dubbed her “Wall of Worry”: a comprehensive collection of every anxious thought plaguing her mind.  

“I wrote down the probabilities of what could happen – I was pretty organized in my questions. Once I had it all written down and had spoken with my doctors, it was easier to let the worries go.” 

The Washington University physicians at Siteman Cancer Center were more than happy to address her “Wall of Worry”, minimizing fear and maximizing hope through compassionate care informed by innovative research. 

“I began to really trust my doctors, taking things one day at a time, and not going down every rabbit hole.” 

“I had confidence the whole time in Siteman. They never tried to sugar coat it, but they never tried to make it seem worse either. They made it clear what the path would be.”

Beyond mitigating Ann’s curated worries, the healthcare team at Siteman Cancer Center provided other avenues of emotional support to foster a sense of connection while undergoing cancer treatment. 

“Siteman was so good at the practical side of things at every step. They have people going through with pets and cookies. They have former cancer survivors telling their stories. The nurses are top notch and really know what they’re doing. The whole experience with Siteman made me feel like I was really being cared for on a personal level.” 

Ann was particularly moved by the Siteman Cancer Center team’s ability to keep spirits high. 

“Everyone at Siteman is positive. Everyone I encountered. Not positive by brushing it off or being inauthentic, just matter-of-fact positive.”

Now finished with her chemotherapy, Ann checks in with her Washington University oncologist once every six months. Soon that will change to once per year. While it has been difficult to say goodbye to doctors who provided such comfort, Ann knows that Siteman offers a lifelong line of support that transcends this waning cadence of visits.  

“It’s bittersweet. When you’re under a doctor’s care, especially at Siteman, you feel reassured. It’s like cutting the cord a little bit. Still, Dr. Margenthaler made it clear that she was there if anything happens or if I have any questions. She’s a golfer and so am I, so maybe one of these days we’ll get together.” 

Years removed from her initial diagnosis, Ann is living her life cancer free while reflecting on her time with Siteman and the important work the cancer center continues to do every day. 

“Going through all this made me think about a lot of things financially and wanting to make a positive impact. There are a lot of causes you can give to, but this is something that affects everyone. I didn’t know that Siteman was one of the only big institutions where the physicians split their time between clinical patient care and conducting research that can advance clinical care to the next level. It’s an awesome model.” 

Ann knows firsthand the critical role philanthropy plays in finding the next big breakthrough in cancer care. She may not be entirely rid of her worries, but she continues to build hope by partnering with Siteman to ensure world-class cancer treatment for patients like her. 

“I would say to give generously- there’s still so much to be done and when you start to dig into the research of what’s needed, it’s staggering. Dollars propel the science forward. This support can hopefully get us to the point where we are closer to something resembling a cure.” 

By contributing to the Siteman Annual Fund, Ann and other visionary donors provide Siteman Cancer Center the resources to conduct groundbreaking research and retain the expert physicians that make this type of care possible. Make a gift to the Siteman Cancer Center and join the fight for a brighter future today!