• Meeting the Oncologist

    Asked by rosina88 on Saturday, April 25, 2015

    Meeting the Oncologist

    So we go to our first meeting with the oncologist. He was an hour and a half late, we were frightened and stressed, and he basically threw up his hands and said he didn't know where to start with all my husband's issues. Acted very impatient and irritated when I pulled out my notebook with questions, so I didn't bother. This is one of the top cancer centers in the country! We are feeling very discouraged now, especially since my husband had a tumor eruption through the skin that turned out to be more small bowel cancer. We planned on getting a second opinion with MD Anderson, but not sure we can wait that long, which leaves us with the first doctor. Yuck! Has anyone had a situation like this, where you might be stuck with an oncologist that you feel doesn't care? My husband is now going around saying "I'm screwed", which is the last thing we need to feel right now...

    27 Answers from the Community

    27 answers
    • motraveler's Avatar
      motraveler

      So sorry you are going through this tight now. Is there a diffetent oncologist you can go to in tthis cancer center. I remember a doctor telling us last summer you can always fire your doctor. Dont hesitate.

      over 4 years ago
    • Penny82's Avatar
      Penny82

      I'm sorry you had a bad experience with that doctor. If there is a head of his department I would try to get a phone call into him and explain what happened and what your concerns are with wanting someone to act professional and he may accommodate you by trying to make a better first impression and getting you an appointment with another doctor immediately. If that doesn't work let the first doctor start treatment while you wait for a second opinion. Majority of oncologists aren't stupid, their people skills are just lacking. And with tumor eruption through the skin the therapies need to be started quickly. At least get the ball rolling with the scans and planning needed for radiation or the blood work needed for chemo. All that takes a couple weeks so see if you can get in to another oncologist at that time.

      over 4 years ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      California has many NIH-designated cancer centers, which are the best. Check with the doctor who diagnosed your husband (and may have referred you to your current oncologist) to see if he or she can refer you to a different oncologist and get you in quickly. (OR do a search of NIH-designated cancer centers and start calling to see how long it would take to be seen.)

      As Penny82 says, if he's a great doctor, that's the most important thing. He could have just had a bad day and may be totally nice if you see him again. (I've seen doctors act like that when they lose a patient, which in a sense speaks well for them.)

      over 4 years ago
    • Jalemans' Avatar
      Jalemans

      I had a circumstance with my oncologist in January where I felt she didn't have my back & was thinking I would have to change. (such as when I asked about recurrence she told me to toss a coin). However, when I saw her in March she was back to normal. I guess even oncologist's can have a bad day & some have no bedside manner but as was said, the important thing is they are good at what they do.

      over 4 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      You can also reach out to the head of that oncology department. Call their office and ask for their email addy and send them an email about how you felt from this meeting and that you need a good level of communication with your Onc. And we're so disconnected that you didn't ask your questions. Hospitals reputations are also based upon survival numbers so they have every reason to help you survive. For instance the University of chicago has one of the highest levels of 5 year survival for lung cancer.
      In a past post I gave the new tools to communicate with your Onc. All hospitals treating cancer want this..reach out to the head and ask if he or she will take you as a patient.

      over 4 years ago
    • cllinda's Avatar
      cllinda

      I'm so sorry that you experienced this. I hope you find someone that will be patient, and be able to help your husband get the care he needs. Hugs to you both.

      over 4 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      Excellent suggestions above. "You can fire your doctor" is a line I first heard at a caregiver conference in 2011. I have done it twice as caregiver to my partner, who has MS.

      Bad day or no, your oncologist's behavior was completely inappropriate. I would report it and find someone with whom you and your husband feel comfortable.

      (My oncologist is not particularly known for his bedside manner -- I heard another patient compare his personality to the whitewashed wall in our waiting room -- but I feel secure with him and trust his judgment. He hears me out and attends to all my questions and concerns.)

      over 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      I had the same experience with my first meeting with my oncologist. He was so harsh that my daughter fainted. When I was diagnosed by another Dr, I was given 4 to nine months to live. My tumor was deemed inoperable. I had gone for a second opinion and I had found a surgeon who was doing new surgery and she felt I was a good candidate for this surgery. The head of the center had agreed to do the preliminary chemo and radiation. From April to August it was a struggle to get this done. The surgeon showed me the emails he sent her. He also was consistently 45 to an hour and a half late. My daughter started a patients revolt and several patients made formal complaints
      That was five years ago today. I believe he has changed more than I have changed. He has conceded that he lost the bet. I am now cancer free
      So you can either fire your Dr.; or change him/her.

      over 4 years ago
    • rosina88's Avatar
      rosina88

      Good for you, BoiseB! Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement and for sharing your experiences. Tomorrow we make the long trek to see the oncologist for the results of my husband's scans. I noticed that we are scheduled for a 20 minute visit, but I intend to take some time in outlining what I expect from our future relationship, if indeed we decide to have one with this doctor. Believe me, I'm no shrinking violet, and have no problem with going in another direction if needed. There's always that feeling of "hurry up!" to deal with, but as you say, it took some time to get to this point, so make sure we get it right. Also have MD Anderson as back up-it's just that this unpleasant doctor is a lot closer.

      Thanks again, and no doubt I will have an update on tomorrow.

      over 4 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      I would never stick with a doctor I don't trust and that didn't care. I don't care what his credentials might be. I want a doctor who cares about me as a person and as a patient ... and who is willing to answer every question I have.

      My oncologist is never more than a few minutes late. They should respect your time just as they expect you to respect theirs.

      over 4 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      I interviewed EIGHT oncologists before selecting one. I'm not a dog in a pound thrilled to be adopted by anyone. One doctor actually patted me on the head and said "Don't worry, Little Lady. We will take care of you." That was interviewee #2.

      I did not have the same type of cancer. It took the doctors 13 years before I was finally given a diagnosis so I wasn't quite as nervous as you. I had a growth behind my anus.

      Understandably, doctors can have unexpected emergencies. Leaving a patient to sit and wait without explanation or an offer of an alternate appointment day is simply bad behavior.

      A doctor is supposed to help you and teach you how to regain your health, not intimidate you. He or she ought to want you to ask questions so that everything is well understood by all parties.

      Einstein said that if a person could not break a subject down well enough to explain it, that person likely did not understand the subject either.

      Everything about cancer is scary and other than normal. I head MD Anderson has great doctors. There are several extraordinary teaching hospitals in California. UC Davis. Stanford. Lots more down South. It wouldn't hurt you to get out of Lompoc for a bit.

      Best wishes for your hubby to regain his good health.

      over 4 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      oopsies

      I head MD Anderson actually means I hear that MD Anderson ....

      over 4 years ago
    • sallas21's Avatar
      sallas21

      That is beyond terrible. How confusing it must all be and the person to lead the way sounds like an insensitive jerk I was fortunate in that all my doctors gave the impression that they cared and actually knew who I was and what I was facing. If you have the energy, I would investigate other options at different facilities I know insurance can put limits on second opinions but I definitly think you qualify for one!

      over 4 years ago
    • rosina88's Avatar
      rosina88

      It's really limiting having a rare cancer, so I have to go to the places that have the best resources to deal with it. I spent many days and nights researching, and have a list of about ten. If I have to see all of them to find the right one, I will. We just tried the "local" one (three hours south of us) first.

      over 4 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar
      Clyde

      Fire this onc. Keep the appointment with MD. Cancer is an horror show. Don't let the circus you are joining get the best of you.

      over 4 years ago
    • rosina88's Avatar
      rosina88

      You are all so kind! I am overwhelmed. Today we get results of scans and labs post surgery from Evil Onc Number One, so I believe we shall take them and run, just waiting for the contact from MD Anderson to get us on the schedule. The doc there is the only one who has active trials in small bowel cancer going on, and is most recently and frequently publishing in this type of cancer, so I am excited to move on.

      over 4 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar
      cam32505

      It sounds like your husband is 'screwed' if he stays with this doctor. You need a doctor who has hope and a few brains to try to solve your husband's problem.

      over 4 years ago
    • fowlstack's Avatar
      fowlstack

      The same thing happened to me a year ago when I went to my first oncologist. he may have been having a bad day but he seemed distracted and I did not feel comfortable. I then had to wait 3 weeks for an appointment at MD Anderson and very glad I did. I have no complaints with my oncologist the PA or the nurses who had been treating me. I suggest you find a new oncologist if at all possible. Best of luck

      over 4 years ago
    • ivyJ's Avatar
      ivyJ

      Yes, I feel for you. My first hospital diagnosed me with irritable bowel symptom, diverticulitis, depressionand anything but cancer. All the while I had a malignant tumor growing in my small bowels. To some doctors, it's just a job, and they are uncaring. I became so ill (lost 50 pounds) and my first "prestigious" hospital never gave me a CT. they didn't care. They discharged me after seeing a mass in my small intestines to return later. Within ten days I believed I was dying, I could hardly stand...defecating on myself. I went to the City Hospital and they removed my tumor the next day. It was malignant, unfortunately it had metastasized and I was in stage 4 cancer. Had I stayed with Mt. Sinai, NYC, I would most likely had died in a month. Do not stay with an uncaring doctor, there are many good ones out there. My City Hospital oncologist is a doll.

      over 4 years ago
    • rosina88's Avatar
      rosina88

      I'm absolutely done with this doctor. We had to wait two hours this time, he gave us bad news with a smarmy "I'm so sorry" repeated over and over, told me there were no clinical trials (not true) and that the only treatment for small intestine cancer is the same as for colon cancer (not what I've learned.) Back to the drawing board, waiting for the stupid wound vac to get taken off so we can get to MD Anderson, and am looking at other medical centers. Thanks for listening, I'm so burned out from all of this.

      over 4 years ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      If you search National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers, you will get a list that includes many in California. Hopefully you can get your diagnosing physician to help you get an appointment as soon as possible. Sometimes that's faster than striking out by yourself, especially if they know someone there to work you in. Best wishes!

      over 4 years ago
    • rosina88's Avatar
      rosina88

      OK, a few weeks later and things look a lot better! We went to UCSF this week and had an amazing experience with them! Same cancer treatment as UCLA, but the doctors were so helpful and took the time to answer every question. They even called that evening to make sure we didn't have any more questions! My husband wants to cancel MD Anderson and stay with UCSF, and I went along with it, mainly because we were tired from the UCSF trip and the airfare to get to Houston was prohibitive at this late date. I woke up this morning, though, and randomly checked flights, and discovered there had been a massive price drop overnight! So now the Texas trip is back on. My husband is grumbly about it, but I know I would regret not going there. It won't really delay any treatment my husband is going to get, as we have some coordination issues to work out with UCSF and our local oncologist that should be ironed out by the time we get back from Houston.

      over 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      Wow this is very good news. By the way grumblyness is a side effect of cancer. See if there is something fun you can do in Houston while your are there.
      I will be praying that the airfares stay miraculously low.

      over 4 years ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      If you're husband doesn't want to go to Texas, he's likely not going to want to be treated there, or to take their advice. With all due respect, I would be tempted to let him rest and look forward to UCSF, since he's the patient. (no offense)

      over 4 years ago
    • rosina88's Avatar
      rosina88

      I understand what you are saying, BarbarainBham, and that is where we were yesterday. He's okay with going now, especially since I was able to find a good deal on the airfare! His previous concern was that our original plan involved driving to Texas, and that would have been 4 days on the road and missing out on meeting with the local oncologist who will be coordinating treatment with UCSF. Everything fell into place today, though, we are seeing the local doc before we go, and he seems content. We talked about the feeling we would have that we had missed something important by not going to MD Anderson, since the doctor we are meeting there has been doing some research and clinical trials into small bowel cancer treatment. It's a roll of the dice, that's for sure, but only three days out of our lives.

      over 4 years ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      Rosina88, sounds like everything's hunky dorey! Best wishes with his treatment.

      over 4 years ago
    • ivyJ's Avatar
      ivyJ

      I guess we all have had bad situations. I go to the City Hospital clinic where I have waited up to 4 hours to seen. Two and one half hours are the usual. One day, after two hours waiting, I was number eight to be seen. I was skipped over; ignored, as they went to number nine and ten. I walked up to the lady calling names and complained. She asked me, "do you speak-a-Spanish?", I replied "no." She said, "Well we're only waiting on the Spanish speaker and you'll have to wait for an English Speaking doctor." Can you imagine??? I told them this was not the United States of Mexico, and I as an American Citizen resent being pushed aside for these immigrants. This is part of what's happening in the big cities. This makes me so anxious days before my visits because it has happened three times....now that a bad situation.

      over 4 years ago

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