Why I Fired My Oncologist and How I Hired Another (Part II)

After experiencing things I didn’t like about my first oncologist (read Part I of my story here), who I’m calling Dr. Crappy, and hearing how well a friend was being treated by her oncologist, who I’m calling Dr. Wonderful, I decided I wanted to make a change. But Dr. Wonderful was in the same practice as Dr. Crappy so I hesitated; fearful of the problems this might cause. I didn’t know how to ‘break up’ with one oncologist and start ‘seeing’ another. But the process turned out to be easy: I simply cancelled my appointment with Dr. Crappy and got scheduled to see Dr. Wonderful, an oncologist recommended by a friend who was also diagnosed with cancer.

The good traits of my new oncologist

The first good sign from Dr. Wonderful is that he worked me in his schedule right away. I think I only waited a day or two to see him.

I wasn't rushed

Even though I scheduled last minute, Dr. Wonderful somehow carved out a lot of time to visit with my wife and me about my case. We spent at least an hour discussing my current condition, a roadmap of the next couple weeks and answering any questions we had.

I felt like I was a priority

In this first visit and every visit since, Dr. Wonderful has cared for me not just as a patient but as a person also. I finally felt like I was a priority.

I got moved to the front of the line

That bone marrow biopsy I needed that was supposed to take three weeks to get? Well Dr. Wonderful got me the test in a week. Every time I needed a test, Dr. Wonderful got me to the front of the line. During chemotherapy, I developed a cough (chemo cough) and Dr. Wonderful wanted to get a chest x-ray to see if it was pneumonia. I literally drove 1 mile from my oncologist’s office to the radiologist’s office, checked in, and had my x-ray taken before everyone else in the waiting room.

The doctor gave me his email address

I think this may be unheard-of in today’s medical field, but Dr. Wonderful even gave me his email address so I could notify him directly if I had any questions or if my condition changed in any way. He did make me commit to keep it private and only email when necessary, but it was wonderful. Over 1.5 years of care, I’ve exchanged about a dozen emails with him. I’m now 1.5 years post-chemo and haven’t had Dr. Wonderful respond to an email from me since yesterday.

Open to questions and willing to answer

I’m always leery of people who guard their work, claim to have all the answers, and get defensive when questioned. Dr. Wonderful wasn’t like that at all. He freely admitted when he didn’t know something and would offer to either get back to me or refer me to someone who would know. He sent me to see and consult a CLL specialist to ensure the treatment planned was the best option for me.

It's not just me who didn't fit with my first oncologist

I had a stranger reach out to me via my public Instagram account (@rusty_vs_cll) and express hopelessness because their doctor wasn’t giving them any answers and wasn’t even available to see them for months. They felt powerless and helpless. After multiple online exchanges with this person over a couple of weeks, they found a new doctor that was treating them like Dr. Wonderful treated me. This experience showed me it wasn’t just my experience; it is an experience many cancer patients have. If you have a Dr. Crappy I encourage you to look around. There are Dr. Wonderful’s accessible to you. You just have to find them. Don’t be afraid of offending anyone, hurting anyone’s feelings, or hurting anyone’s business. This is your life. Don’t let anything stop you. Find an oncologist that will help you give cancer your best fight!

Read Part I of Why I Fired My Oncologist and How I Hired Another

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