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Cancer Care Chronicles
August 2018

Refusing to Become a “Potted Plant”

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
JAMA Oncol. 2018;4(8):1047-1048. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.5833

Ann loved life, but it had been a hard life. Her father died before she was born, and she had also sadly lost two children, one as a baby and another, a daughter, at young age due to cancer. What’s more, Ann was almost blind owing to macular degeneration and suffered from heart problems that required an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

I first met Ann when she was diagnosed as having a severely metastasized neuroendocrine tumor, just 1 year after she had lost her daughter. I was her oncologist, and she repeatedly told me that she did not want to become a “potted plant,” and from our first meeting Ann was very much in the driver’s seat. But despite her numerous health problems, she continued to live an intense and full life for more than 3 years.

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