One thing that has been obvious for quite a while now is that my oncologist and I do not have a great rapport. Our personalities just don’t really “gel” which was never more obvious than the appointment a few months ago where she actually told me I was “rocking the lesbian look” with my short hair. If I was a lesbian it would be no problem, but I’m not, and the comment seemed insensitive and still brings me to tears remembering it.
The main problem though, has been that I am very much into research (funnily enough, since I work in cancer clinical research…) and throughout my experience with breast cancer I have spent considerable time educating myself on breast cancer and keeping up with the latest news and research.
My oncologist didn’t seem that interested in recent research findings and dismissed quite a number of my questions without adequate explanation and I felt that my treatment and particularly my ongoing follow-up was just based on “what we do and have always done” not on what information is actually out there NOW in the medical world of breast cancer. I get the feeling I was supposed to make myself into “a round peg to fit in the round hole”. Really…
So, since I still need to see an oncologist every 3 months for the next 5 years (I’m on a clinical trial for women with early stage breast cancer) this relationship is really important and I need to be seeing someone who builds me up and sends me away from appointments feeling informed, listened to and looked after.
Today I had a first appointment with a new oncologist at a different hospital. One that is much closer to where we live instead of where I work. This is good because if this breast cancer comes back at some point I will probably give up work to deal with it rather than trying to struggle through as I did this past year.
The new oncologist was everything I wanted and need. I came away from my appointment feeling like I had just had a great “first date” or won the lottery.
He asked me questions and seemed determined to shape my follow-up strategy based on ME (well, he at least made me think that). He sent me away feeling more informed after getting answers to questions that I had not had adequately answered previously. And, he has proactively asked me to have a couple of follow-up tests in a few months that will give us a clearer picture of where I stand in regards the ongoing hormonal tablets I need to take for at least the next 5 years.
If, by some horrible chance, this breast cancer comes back one day this guy is definitely the person that I want guiding me through my options, so why did I not make this change sooner?
The answer to that question is quite frightening to me in hindsight.
I have realised that despite my experience in the cancer “industry”, even I was caught up in some old fashioned attitude that “doctor always knows best” and also caught up in the fear that if I pointed out my dissatisfaction I would not be treated the right way. In other words, I spent quite some considerable number of months ACTUALLY TRYING TO BECOME that round peg to fit in the round hole even though I felt more like a complicated trapezium shaped peg. What I should have done, and what I hope I have now done, is find a complicated trapezium hole that is just perfect for me!
Are you caught up in a medical relationship that is not working for you? Were you brave enough to move on and find someone more suited to your “shape”?
I am so happy that I have now done this…