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My Revolving Door of Oncologists Continues to Revolve

Sometimes I’m envious of those who have and have had ongoing stable relationships with their oncologists. It would be really wonderful to have a doctor/patient relationship that feels solid and enduring. Not rehashing your story over and over would be nice. Trust is hard to build without at least some amount of continuity. Of course, the nicest thing of all would be not needing an oncologist in the first place.

I will never get used to the idea of needing an oncologist. Never. I still can’t fully fathom requiring such a person in my life, but…

Last week it was time for my six-month check up and I reverted back to oncologist #4. My revolving door of oncologists continues to revolve.

I’ve had five oncologists. Five. I’m really not a difficult patient. It’s just how things have gone for me.

A very brief synopsis goes like this:

Oncologist #1 left to practice elsewhere. Oncologist #2 (loved her) was a sub, which no one bothered to tell me, so I only saw her once. Oncologist #3 was a sub as well, but after being informed of this I was okay with it. I’ve been a substitute teacher. I respect subs. However this particular sub had me scheduled for two scans without fully reading my chart. Ties were immediately severed. Oncologist #4 was/is a wonderful man and doctor. But again, he’s a man. So when I learned my cancer center was hiring a new female oncologist who happened to have lots of BRCA experience, I figured since I was sort of in oncologist limbo-land anyway why not try her out?

My first appointment with #5 was okay. Maybe just okay should have been a heads up for me, but I really wanted things to work out for us. Appointment two was a disaster. Without sharing too many details that would probably just bore you anyway, let me just say the appointment concluded with me in tears and her washing her hands of me, which in itself I found hurtful and weird. Of course, I would have ditched her anyway, but shouldn’t that have been my call?

So now I’m back to oncologist #4. I should have stuck with him in the first place, but as they say, live and learn.

At my most recent appointment, oncologist #4 proved that not only is he very competent he’s also kind, understanding and more than willing to take me back as his patient. He stated right off the bat, “Nancy, you have the right to see whomever you’d like. Don’t ever feel as if you need to apologize for changing doctors. This is about you”.

We had a productive and partnership/type appointment, which is how oncology appointments must be; as should medical appointments of any kind.

Oncologist #4 was knowledgeable, kind and caring. He listened. He validated. He offered his perspectives and opinions, but also listened to mine. He was never dismissive.

It’s weird to call an oncology appointment pleasant, but this one was. And of course the best news of all was that I’m still NED (no evidence of disease).

As oncologists go, I think I’ve finally “settled in on one” for the long haul. At least I hope so.

Even now three years post my diagnosis,  I still deserve an oncologist that “fits”.

If you need one, you deserve the same.

How many oncologists have you had?

Have you ever had a doctor (of any kind) ask to sever ties with you?

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Sunday 24th of November 2013

I'm hoping you warm up to this guy. I always try and remind myself it is their knowledge that matters... not bedside manner. That said, you do need to have a good working relationship. After all, it is your life you are both working on!

Congratulations on your continued good health!


Monday 25th of November 2013

Mae, It is their knowledge that matters most, but their personality and method of care delivery is a huge deal too, as I am learning... As you said, a good working relationship is needed. I think it's an absolute must. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Claudia Schmidt

Friday 22nd of November 2013

Hi Nancy, I hope you've finally found the right oncologist. I had to switch as well. My first one was an older gentleman and he wasn't interested in being collaborative with me re my treatment options, so I switched to another, younger one who was open and caring and shared a lot of information with me so that we made a join decision about my regimen. I hope your #4 works out. xo


Friday 22nd of November 2013

Claudia, It's hard to understand why some doctors don't care to collaborate more with their patients... I'm glad you found a good fit too. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Thursday 21st of November 2013

I am so glad that I found you! Now, I need to figure out how to add you to my reader, there's a lot of catch-up reading to be done. :)


Thursday 21st of November 2013

SwoosieQue, Welcome! I'm glad you found me too. Yeah, I have a fair number of posts don't I? ha. I'll be visiting your blog soon. Thanks so much for seeking me out and letting me know you landed here.

Thursday 21st of November 2013

It really is about you, the patient. Fortunately, there are choices and one can go "shopping." It's not weird for oncology appointments to be pleasant. An oncologist who genuinely cares knows how to put the patient at ease.

Congrats on being NED. That's wonderful news!


Thursday 21st of November 2013

Eileen, True, but sometimes in smaller 'doctor markets' the shopping around isn't all that easy and my market is in no way as small as some. And it also does take a fair amount of energy and effort to shop around and some with cancer (or any condition) just aren't up to doing it. So I really feel for those who are stuck in a not top-notch doctor/patient relationship. Everyone deserves the best. You're right of course, oncology appointments can and maybe should be pleasant, but still... the fact that you're seeing one isn't pleasant at all. Thanks for reading and for the congrats.

karen sutherland

Thursday 21st of November 2013

oh, Nancy - so sorry I forgot to say how happy I am for you for being NED. Yay!!!

love, xoxo, karen


Thursday 21st of November 2013

Karen, Thank you!

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