• My doctor is very somber and pessimistic but seems to know what he is talking about. Should I change doctors?

    Asked by MarktheMan on Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    My doctor is very somber and pessimistic but seems to know what he is talking about. Should I change doctors?

    14 Answers from the Community

    14 answers
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      That's a hard one that only you can answer. Do you trust your doctor? If it's a matter that he doesn't have the best "bedside manner" but you trust him, I'd consider staying put. If it is a matter of no trust, then you might want to consider a 2nd opinion or interviewing other providers. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable w/your providers. I loved my surgeon; my medical oncologist was ok -- didn't feel the need to make a change. I wish you the best of luck w/your decision.

      over 3 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      That depends on what is important to you. Is medical competence or bed side manner more important to you?

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      My onc has the bedside manner of a brick, but he is well respected, has a good reputation and his advice is solid. I'm not seeing him to hold my hand or be warm and fuzzy so I don't really care about his personality. If anything, I feel his lack of fuzzy makes him easier to understand and comprehend. Of all the drs I have seen in this journey, only one has managed to be professional, excellent and personable at the same time. At this level, warm and fuzzy isn't always on tap. Which is fine because this is a business arrangement and I want everything clear and clean.

      Do some research on your dr's reputation, get a second opinion if you want, but try to be objective.

      over 3 years ago
    • Kathy's Avatar

      This is a really tough one and I guess you need to trust your instincts. I have dealt with a recurrence and have a different set of doctors this time. The first doctor was good and confident - but then it came back - I trust he was telling me the truth and not misleading me. This time the doctors seem more pessimistic but then maybe it's more me too because of course with a recurrence it seems to change the whole picture. But I think listen to that small voice and your gut. I don't think it would hurt to get another opinion to see if the outlook and information is the same. One thing I've learned is there's the cancer we get but then there are so many variables in the treatment and outcome. Hope this isn't too long - but you got me thinking. Good luck to you.

      over 3 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      When you say pessimism are you hoping for someone who is more upbeat about treatments and everything, or are you having a problem accepting his prognosis for you? Either way, I don't see the harm in getting a second opinion. You should have complete faith in your doctor. Getting a second opinion will give context to what the first doctor has told you.

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      The fact that you have asked this questions leads me to believe that you have doubts about working with this particular oncologist. But you're the only one that can answer the question.

      Some factors to consider.

      Every doctor has their own style. Do you like him, do you feel that you can have a productive collaborative relationship? As others have mentioned you may want to get a 2nd opinion and see other oncologist to get confirmation on the treatment plan etc. and maybe find one you feel will suite your personality better. I strongly feel that I need to like and feel comfortable with any doctor treating me, and if I don't, i find one that I do.

      over 3 years ago
    • melee_me's Avatar

      My daughter's oncologist was very pessimistic for the first 3 yrs post diagnosis. First time he met her he said the tumor would come back and it would be terminal. That was a great start!

      - But he was very methodical and paid attention to all her medical needs so we stuck with him. He also had a good reputation and long history of working in neuro-oncology.

      When she asked for referral to plastic surgeon to have her brain surgery scar lessened, he told her not to because "I'll only have to cut it again when the tumor comes back". We ignored this pessimistic advice and she had successful plastic surgery which increased her self-esteem - a great and very positive local doctor gave her the referral...

      Then on her 3rd anniversary, the oncologist said, "MRI all clear again, that's good" We nodded, and he reiterated "No you don't understand, this is very, very good" and for the first time he smiled. That's when we realised that indeed, her recovery was not only very, very good but had totally surprised her oncologist...

      In almost 5 years, that is the only time the oncologist has been positive. Subsequent visits have been lacking any positive exclamations but as her MRIs remain clear, we are happy!

      - Would we change oncologists? Should we have searched for a more positive one? In retrospect I am glad we stuck with the oncologist we had as his pessimism encouraged us to be even more positive. Every time he said something pessimistic, we thought "That's unacceptable"...

      I think having a very positive local doctor was critically important, so my only advice is to have at least one person on your team who gives you positive and enthusiastic encouragement.

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear MarktheMan,

      You are not without options in this situation. Many competent doctors are graceless when it comes to bedside manner (my ex-husband was a physician, so I know [I'm not making a comment about him]). However, you can seek a second opinion and see how you feel afterward.

      I'd also recommend talking to CancerCare. The Oncological Social Workers there are very good to speak to-it's not like "regular therapy". Everything is geared toward cancer patients, no matter what type of Cancer you have (I'm a BC patient) and what stage you're in.

      I'm a (retired) Medical Librarian. I don't offer medical advice-it's against Librarians' code of ethics, but I do offer referrals to institutions, physicians, agencies, URLS, books, media, etc. Even for recreational "stuff" that's fun and you need that too. Distractions are good and you shouldn't live Cancer 24/7. If you like books, and there's no bookgroup near you, here's a URL for a virtual one called www.goodreads.com. You can track all your titles, write book reviews, join small genre bookgroups, make virtual friends, find titles and read others' reviews. It's a small step, but it might keep you entertained for a while. I have other ideas-when you're ready, feel free to message me.

      I hope you get that second opinion and that it will help you to decide whether to change docs or not (you can use a different doc than the one you're seeking the 2nd opinion from too).

      Warm wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • MarktheMan's Avatar

      I guess his attitude just gets the best of me. I can't stand someone who is always looking at the negative side. Good dr. just needs to happy up!

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear MarktheMan,

      From the many replies you've received, you can glean that physicians' beside manners can vary tremendously. A doc (I'm guessing we're talking Oncologist here, but also applies to Surgeon) who isn't all sweetness and light doesn't necessarily denote a physician who isn't caring, concerned and above all brilliant in her/his diagnostic (and behind the scenes in her/his research skills which make her/him brilliant in diagnostics) skills. However, in my earlier message to you, one thing I didn't say is that you need to weigh this against your comfort level. You ideally should be able to locate a doctor who's warm enough to make you feel comfortable and smart enough to discern what's happening as she/he wades through the swath of scans, bloodwork, and physical exams in order to produce an accurate diagnosis.

      As we know, Oncology is a field of medicine, that's say (I'm speaking from the point of view of a physician or more accurately as a doctor's wife [ex] {was married to my husband when he chose his field of medicine}]) isn't cheery (understatement). The folks who go into this do so because they want to use their intelligence to help make a contribution, because it's challenging for them intellectually (and good for their egos when they get it right [hey, they need emotional payback too!], and/or because they love doing research (at the bigger institutions [they get grants, they get faculty positions, they get published, they attend & present papers at conferences, etc.). That's why the variety in temperament (besides the fact that people all have different personalities and personal motivations). Note: I'm leaving out the financial factors.

      Ultimately (as a bunch of folks have stated here), you need to decide whether you want brilliance (if you think he's brilliant) over compassionate. (You don't want "Dr. House"...;)) One person who wrote you had a doc who cheered up when positive results came in - that was great! But yours may be different. You may not be able to get both brilliance and compassion/warmth in the same package -with this fellow. You need (after a little contemplation) and a second opinion to decide whether to fish or cut bait (not meaning to sound harsh [you need to look at him a little like the way you think he looks at his patients {remember, you won't be hurting his feelings if you leave him-he has many other patients}]). Do what is in your (underline your) best interests. Research the doc you wish to contemplate changing over to (if that's what you wish to do). (Let me know if you need some help doing so - remember I'm a Medical Librarian).

      Confidence in your physician is the ultimate important factor. If you can be detached from whether he's a warm guy, that's ok. If not, start searching. You have every right to have what you want!!

      Let me know if I can help you in any way. I'm happy to do so.

      Best wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      Another thing to remember is that doctors are human too. This is an extremely emotional time for us, in fact, for the most part, especially at the beginning we are all emotion. Drs have to remain objective to do their job correctly. If they let themselves become emotionally involved with the patient, they can actually be more harmful than helpful. A lot of your Dr's bedside manner is dependent on how they handle the need to remain objective, sympathetic but empathetic and how they facilitate that within their own personality. In a perfect world, Drs would be robots, devoid of emotion but able to make the perfect decision(s) for our health. This is not a perfect world.

      After I first met my current onc, I was convinced that he was wrong for me (I was all emotion at this time and desperate to fix this thing that had attacked me). Cold, uninterested and seemingly devoid of knowledge was my impression. It didn't help that the surgeon who had done the node removal was personable, professional, caring and sharp as a tack--the total opposite. But I took the latter's advice and did my research on the onc and discovered his reputation etc. I'm glad I did as he is the best available to me. He is still cold, but I can now see the talent and I trust him. You have to make the final decision, but its worth taking your time, getting second and third opinions and learning about the Dr before you choose. Good luck.

      over 3 years ago
    • Fusionera's Avatar

      Mark - I agree with the other responses here. You must decide whether bedside manner or competence in your treatment decision-making is more important.

      I know your frustration well, as I had a pre-surgical appointment with a prominent neuro-oncologist just before my 2011 surgery. I had questions about potential chemotherapy options for him, which he answered with, "There is nothing for you." He was arrogant, and I am SO grateful he was not a part of my care team. He might well have handed me a death sentence that day. On top of it all, he would not discuss the use of a chemo with which I was familiar. He even told me (with one of my friends as a winess to this), "I don't see why we're even having this appointment. Did you just want to meet me?"

      Had I not been in such shock and had the wherewithall, I might well have said, "You're just so famous and I had to meet you and get your autograph!" Fortunately I kept my mouth shut. To this day I pray that I never cross paths with him again. It will NOT be pretty if I do.

      over 3 years ago
    • jREINHARDT's Avatar


      Since we are both in indianapolis, if you are looking to change I can give you the name of a couple that are closely tied with Eli Lilly and their clinical trials. I am currently using one as a second opinion and he has great bedside manner and knows more about what is going on than most have forgotten. I too had to make a change and i followed my gut, best thing i ever did.

      over 3 years ago
    • suswat's Avatar

      All of our doctors at Johns Hopkins were so positive and uplifting! it made all the difference in the world to us when we first went there and all we had heard up to that time was doom and gloom(Stage IV Glioblastoma, Frontal Lobe,inoperable). The physicians there have goals for your care, and they make you feel like you have a chance, and you're not just a statistic. To us, being surrounded everywhere we went by that attitude made treatment easier, and made us more comfortable. Especially after surgery when their pathologists discovered it was not Glioblastoma but Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma, with a much better prognosis.

      over 3 years ago

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