Sue Seiman had a long career serving in the medical field, with 20 years working in the psychiatric unit at St. Joe Hospital and 14 years at Parkview as a nurse educator. She retired from the health system in 2011 and began volunteering. So when she started experiencing concerning symptoms a few years ago, she knew better than to wait to seek answers.
But that didn’t mean they came right away. Sue first reached out to an OB/GYN provider in 2020, when she began post-menopausal bleeding. “The first doctor I saw was never very involved,” Sue recalled. “She did an ultrasound and told me if I started hemorrhaging to go to the Emergency Room.” Sue hoped that her symptoms might resolve on their own. But they didn’t.
“The second doctor I saw was more proficient in labor and delivery,” she said. “But when it came to older women, he wasn’t gifted in knowing what to do. He did a biopsy and gave me a false diagnosis, which was frustrating. I’d spent years being an advocate for others, and now I had to be an advocate for myself.” He sent Sue to Scott Goodrich, MD, Oncology: Gynecologic Care Team, Parkview Packnett Family Cancer Institute. And that, she said, was the best thing that could have happened. “That was the beginning of knowing I was supported and people were going to listen. With Dr. Goodrich, I knew that the symptoms weren’t in my head. There was an issue.”
Dr. Goodrich performed a biopsy and, after years of feeling like no one was truly listening, Sue received a diagnosis in February 2023. Sue had a polyp growing above a fibroid that turned into uterine cancer. In March, Dr. Goodrich performed a hysterectomy. “He did a CT scan prior to the surgery to map it out, and removed my ovaries, fallopian tubes and lymph nodes that could be associated with that growth. He wanted to be pretty extensive so he could be sure he got it,” Sue said. After a few weeks of recovery, she did several weeks of chemotherapy.
And, while there’s one area they’re keeping an eye on, Sue is in remission. “I had CT and PET scans in October and the PET scan came back clear. No cancer. But we have a plan moving forward. They've done everything at hand, they'll watch it, and do everything they need to do,” she said. “It’s clear that their goal is to get as many people into remission as possible, with their dignity, and I’m eternally grateful.”
Exceptional team members and services
“I had more than excellent care,” Sue said. “Above five stars.” She shared that she was incredibly impressed with the physicians on her care team, including Iwona Podzielinski, MD, Oncology: Gynecologic Care Team, Parkview Packnett Family Cancer Institute. “For one of my appointments, Dr. Goodrich was on vacation and she took his place. She was so compassionate.”
Her care extended into other support services offered at the cancer institute as well. “I already had GERD,” Sue said, “so I had a lot of GI issues. The dietitian, Molly Brennan, was very helpful. Even after she signed off on my case, she told me I could call her with any questions.” She had similar compliments for the team of nurses who started her IVs for every procedure and treatment, and the team of nurse navigators who assisted her throughout the journey. “I had several nurse navigators, and they helped me keep everything straight.”
She was also impressed with the palliative care team at the cancer institute. “I’d been a volunteer for home healthcare facilities and hospice, and had done sitting passage for 28 years, so I was familiar with how palliative care helped with quality of life,” Sue said. “But I didn't realize all the possibilities. They really outdid themselves helping me manage side effects, pain control and different things to guide me through the illness. They understood and helped me problem-solve. That team was such a great resource. They were very caring, treated me as an individual and helped me navigate the journey.”
Overall, Sue felt that sentiment from the moment her pursuit of a diagnosis brought her to Parkview. “Not only do you care for people, but you help them get through this process to find peace. I felt like the people caring for me really listened to what I was saying and what I wanted. I’ve never had the experience or interactions like I had at Parkview.”
Words of encouragement and peace
“I started a support group for cancer survivors at my church,” she said. “On the first day, we shared our journeys and someone said it must have been different for me, knowing what I do and having been a part of the healthcare system, which is probably true. But there was still anxiety. I did a few things to help get me through it. The first thing is, I didn’t lie around. I took a walk almost every day. I started with half a block and worked up to several blocks.”
The second thing Sue focused on was her spiritual center. She met with the chaplains a few times, which brought her comfort. Her faith was a source of strength throughout her journey.
“I asked the chaplain, Susie, what verse of the Bible would be supportive and she said Proverbs 3:5-6: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.’ I said that verse every day and sometimes multiple times a day. This was not in my control. God was in control, and he would make the decisions. I just had to understand it was all part of His plan and someday I would understand more of that plan.”
The other verse Sue reached for in times of uncertainty was Psalm 31:14–15, “But I trust in you. You are my God, and my times are in your hand.” Sue said that trusting in God gave her hope. “First you have to surrender to God and know he's in charge. That brings trust, and trust brings hope. And that helped me more than anything. It reduced my anxiety to let go and put it all in His hands. It got me to the next day. And I expressed gratitude each morning when I woke up and was blessed with another day.”
Sue admits that every person’s cancer journey is different, but for her, moving her body, focusing on her faith and leaning into the resources available got her to where she is today. “You don’t have to go through it alone. Find a support group so that you can be with others who have been through it or who are going through it. They are on the journey, too.”
You can see a full list of support services available through the Parkview Packnett Family Cancer Institute here.