Recently, I had my six-month checkup with my oncologist. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had five oncologists. Not my fault. Just sayin’. I’m not that difficult a patient. Trust me. I’m not. It’s eight years since my breast cancer diagnosis. Eight years since the shit hit the fan. Eight years since Dear Hubby and I walked into that first oncology appointment wondering WTF was in store for us.
This time around, my appointment fell one day after the date of my diagnosis eight years ago. One day. Talk about adding a surreal touch. Eerie.
I am happy and beyond grateful to report that I’m still NED.
My oncologist and I had our usual conversation. I’m sorta bored, happily so, by our repetitive-in-nature sort of discussions. He probably is too. Sometimes I wonder if he sits there thinking, come on, lady, enough with the questions; I’ve got more pressing things to do yet today.
In a nutshell, I’ve got issues. I’ve got
more than my share of collateral damage. But I’m still here and as Dear Hubby often jokingly (sorta) reminds us both, we’re still on our own power.
But I am still pissed off about the whole cancer shit storm that has ensued and changed my life and my family’s lives for good. So yes, I’m still NED, still grateful and still pissed off. But mostly, I am grateful.
I am allowed to be grateful and pissed off. So are you.
After I read Martha’s recent post, I love my oncologist, but…, I started thinking about the relationship I have with my oncologist, and I started wondering what your relationships are like with yours. I hope you’ll share about yours with a comment below.
Specifically, what do you want most from your oncologist, and do we sometimes expect too much from them?
As Martha confided with us in her post, she knows patients who have close relationships with their oncologists. Some exchange hugs on every visit. Some discuss families, jobs and vacations. Some share photos of loved ones with each other. Heck, some have photos taken with their oncologists. She acknowledged that she was sorta envious of those relationships.
I mean, who doesn’t want a special relationship like that?
Honestly, I guess I don’t.
What do I want?
I want my oncologist to be knowledgeable, competent, compassionate, respectful of my viewpoints and yes, personable, to a degree anyway. I expect eye contact. I want to be listened to. I want validation. I want help managing long-term side effects. I want honesty, integrity and all the usual stuff like that.
I want these things from any doctor I see, don’t you?
Though our relationship is far from perfect, I have these things with my present oncologist. I did not with all the others.
One more thing I’ll share with you, my Dear Readers, is the fact that I have never mentioned to any of my oncologists that I have a blog or that I’ve written three books related to breast cancer. I’ve never mentioned it to my primary care physician either. Although, I likely will tell her at some point as she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer herself. But then again, maybe I won’t.
Why the heck not?
Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert. In all honestly, I have never felt comfortable with any doctor. Ever. This probably has more to do with me. I don’t like it when others are in my space (for lack of a better way to put it.) And when you have breast cancer, saying doctors are in your space is an understatement.
Maybe I prefer to keep some things private. Maybe being so vulnerable physically makes me want to shield and protect the real me, the inner me. Or maybe it’s because I don’t think they’d be interested in reading my blog anyway. But then, there are some wonderful docs out there in Social Media Land who do read my stuff online. Heck, they even share my stuff now and then. So, I might be wrong.
I guess I just don’t need my oncologist (and other doctors) to know the details of my life outside those cancer center doors. It’s a sort of wall, I suppose, a separation of lives.
I don’t need or even want my oncologist to be my friend; I need him to be my oncologist.
What about you?
What do you expect from your oncologist (and other doctors), and do you think we sometimes expect too much?
How would you describe the relationship you have with your oncologist and/or other doctors? How much do you share about your personal life?
If you have metastatic disease, what matters most to you, and how has your relationship with your oncologist changed, or has it?