A recent visit with Barbara Giannotti, her husband Ed, and her sister Audrey quickly revealed that their fight against stage III ovarian cancer involves more than just their family’s personal devastation in coping with the disease. Key to their experience is the despair they felt when looking for answers to their questions as well as their concern for others who lack the resources to help them through their cancer journey. For Barbara and her family, finding PearlPoint Cancer Support has provided the comfort of a support relationship that they say has sustained them.
While Barbara describes her interactions with the Supportive Services staff at PearlPoint as prompt, warm, respectful, and professional, she defers to Audrey and Ed to explain just how vital the relationship has been. Barbara has, understandably, stayed focused on getting through the steps of her treatment plan. With her diagnosis in the spring of this year came their family’s need to establish a team approach – a need to divide and conquer for coping with what was ahead of them. Ed has stayed focused on the home front, maintaining normalcy at home and work. Audrey, who lives over 800 miles away from Barbara and Ed, immediately began researching resources outside the treatment setting to assist them. Early on, when Barbara had to be hospitalized with repeated intestinal blockages, Audrey searched for nutritional resources and found the support of PearlPoint.
“Their registered dietitian quickly identified that Barbara needed to change her diet immediately to help prevent further blockages,” Audrey says. “Her advice has made a profound difference in Barbara’s quality of life.”
The dietitian’s advice about a tailored diet for Barbara addressed their first immediate need, and Audrey also found additional guidance and support from one of PearlPoint oncology social workers.
“The ongoing relationship with PearlPoint has meant we have a steady partner to whom we can ask all our questions and concerns,” says Audrey. “They are a comprehensive, compassionate resource of support for our family.”
Ed is quick to point out that their experience with cancer navigation has required determined self-navigation. They have chosen not to accept information on the surface, and they encourage anyone facing a similar circumstance to question options.
Barbara herself joins in this family’s message of advocacy and awareness. She also hopes there can be greater awareness about ovarian cancer. She did not fit the profile of those at a greater risk for ovarian cancer and, since her diagnosis, has talked with people who have never heard of the disease.
“A cancer diagnosis is such an overload, and we soon discovered that a resource like PearlPoint Cancer Support is rare,” says Audrey. “They were there for us when we needed them most.”