I met with the oncologist this morning.
It all still sounds so strange coming out of my mouth.
I met with the oncologist this morning. Yep, still strange.
I blogged about the fact that we met a few weeks ago, but that’s about all I had to say.
The first half of our appointment a few weeks ago was fine, informative, interesting.
The last half of the appointment a few weeks ago was odd.
He made it very clear to me towards the end of my appointment that he thought that I should not tell many people about my cancer or my surgery. He said that I would be surprised at what people would say to me. Unwanted advice and comments. He basically advised me not to talk about the fact that I had cancer.
I told him that it was too late for that. (so did Mike). I told him that I write a blog and that I tell people when I have a hang nail. It’s just what I do. If they want to read they read, if they don’t want to read, then they don’t read. Pretty simple.
I’m going to blog about my cancer, and I’m going to talk about my cancer. Mr. Oncologist appears to be very young, so perhaps through experience he will learn this advice doesn’t go well with all patients. (Does he need Cancer Support 101? Cancer Support for Dummies?) Not sure. Maybe it’s me
I told him that I felt like I had a responsibility to share my story in hopes that other women would be sure to get their annual mammograms and practice self exams. I want to remind women how important early detection for breast cancer can be. Why would I not tell people that?? Why would an oncologist recommend that I not talk about the benefits of early detection? We obviously didn’t get each other. Maybe I misunderstood him and perhaps he misunderstood why I would want to talk about it. I didn’t get it. Still don’t.
I certainly respect the fact that some people are very private and that not everyone wants to share their story publicly, but I feel like if I want to share my story, that is my choice and I find it odd that any doctor, oncologist or otherwise, would have an opinion about their patient sharing their diagnosis or not.
Then…..Mr. Oncologist felt the need to give me his personal unsolicited opinion on my decision to have reconstructive surgery after my mastectomy.
He told me that he thought that reconstructive surgery was a good choice for me considering my line of work. What??? I said…”Do explain.”
He thought that my job as a WW Leader might be uncomfortable for me and my members if I were standing in front of a group of people and I had no breast. That’s what he said. What the what?
We talk a lot about positive body image, being happy with your body and appreciating your body and what it can do for you (whether at goal weight or just getting started) in my meetings a LOT and this dog was clearly barking up the wrong tree.
I was a tad speechless.
Through all of the reading that I have recently done, I am finding that there are a large number of women that have had a mastectomy and have decided to not have reconstructive surgery. I have complete respect for those women and know that not only must it be a very difficult decision to make, but that it is a very personal decision that must come from a very strong place within.
Who is this guy??
That was when I decided that I didn’t like the oncologist. I think Mike actually told him that he should probably stop talking now.
I went home feeling informed about my cancer, but irritated with my oncologist.
A few days after the appointment with the oncologist, I needed to call my breast surgeons assistance with a few questions. Her name is Trish and I love her.
While I had her on the phone, I decided to share with her my thoughts about my first appointment with the oncologist. I told her that I wasn’t really complaining so much, but that I found his unsolicited opinions odd and I was curious if this was common for an oncologist to share their opinion in the way that he had.
She thanked me for sharing, apologized, and told me that no patient had ever told her anything like that before. I hung up satisfied that I had voiced my feelings with a member of my team of doctors and nurses and went on with my day.
I’ve had other things to think about than whether I like the guy or not, so I forgot to call and request an appointment with a different oncologist that works within this particular group that I have heard wonderful things about. Dang it!
Move forward to today.
I met with the Dog (Mr. Oncologist) this morning. (Shit, that was actually disrespectful to dogs.)
Mike at some point really does have to work, and I had the okay to drive, so I decided to go by myself and I was fine with that. I assumed given the post surgery news that I was going to this appointment today to get information about when I would begin chemo and for how long.
It actually felt good to get out of the house and drive myself. Ahhhh……independence!
On my drive, I pondered how I would approach discussing with Mr Oncologist my feelings about his unsolicited opinions at our first appointment.
We met. We talked cancer (cuz it’s okay to talk about it at the cancer center). He is ordering one more test (Oncotype DX Test) to determine if I need chemo or not. He said there is a really slim chance that I will need any chemo. I do not need any radiation at all, and that is great! I have to wait two more weeks before I will know for sure about the chemo. He was wrapping up the appointment.
Then……I started talking.
I told him that I had two things that I wanted to discuss about my first appointment with him. His nurse was present for the conversation, and I liked everything about her from the beginning, so that was good.
I told him that perhaps my husband and I had misunderstood him, but that we left our first appointment feeling like he had advised us to not talk about my cancer diagnosis. He confirmed for me that he did in fact give that advice and did so because you just never know what people might say to you and how you will handle it.
I then told him that I found that advice odd. I actually did not appreciate the fact that he suggested that I (or any other patient of his) not talk about my cancer diagnosis. I told him that coming from the patient, the one with the cancer, it felt good for me (and perhaps other patients as well, for them to decide, not him) to talk to other people about my diagnosis. I’m a talker. I need to talk. Holding it all in is a really bad thing for me. Causes terrible anxiety!! Whether I talk about it, or blog about it, I need to get it out.
I talked about the importance of feeling the support from others in my shoes.
I talked to him about feeling a bit of a responsibility to share how important early detection can be.
I told him that I wasn’t sure if he had ever been diagnosed with cancer before, but for me, and many other people in my shoes that I have talked to over the last several weeks, it feels good to talk about it and share stories with others that have been through similar circumstances. It’s a support system. I can appreciate that not everyone that receives a diagnosis of any type would want to talk about it, but I happen to know a LOT of people that DO want to talk about it, and I feel as an oncologist, he should leave sharing, or not sharing, up to the patient.
My grandma had breast cancer in her 50’s. I was only 5 at the time, so I had no idea. My own mother didn’t even know about her diagnosis, or her mastectomy until she came home from the hospital and my grandpa called my mom to tell her. Then, the word Cancer was only whispered.
I remember watching her dress (very few times) as a grade schooler and thinking about how her poor body look so mutilated, and the prosthetic that she wore in her bra and how extremely heavy it was. I don’t know that she ever talked about it, or felt that she could. I wish I could talk to her today about it all.
She was one strong lady and such a role model for me. I loved her sense of humor. She was born before her time. She was a meat cutter at the local grocery store in her small town with all the other meat cutters being male. Before that, she owned and operated a small cafe in the small town she lived in. She didn’t put up with any shit. She was my idol.
Being told not to talk about it feels old fashioned, like it’s some kinda secret or something.
I took a breath, then just looked at him.
He graciously and genuinely apologized and told me that he had never in his practice (I still think the guy is fairly young) had a patient tell him anything like that before. He said that most of his patients do not come into his office with decisions made that I had already made and that not everyone is as comfortable talking about it as openly as I was. I reminded him that he might want to ask them and let them decide that. I also reminded him that he did not ask me if I was comfortable talking about my cancer or not, he just advised me not to. He did not ask me if I wanted to talk to other people about my cancer as a means of support. He simply advised me not to talk about it.
I also talked about my job as a Weight Watcher Leader and the importance of body image and body confidence. Boobs or no boobs, goal weight, under weight, over weight….whatever. The important thing is how we nourish our body, our mental and physical health, not our boob size, ya dog!!
He thanked me for my honesty, (I really do think the guy was genuine in his apology, but clearly I caught him off guard) and I told him thank you for listening.
You’re the Boss of You!
Don’t be afraid to a talk to your doctor just because they’re a doctor! They don’t actually know everything about people just because they know medicine.
I realize I got lucky today and the guy could have told me to go fly a kite, but I also approached it gently and I actually think he appreciated it.
That of course could all just be in my head to make me feel better, but you get the idea.
Speak up! Even if it doesn’t make a difference, it could make you feel better to stand up for yourself!
I REALLY REALLY like my breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon that will perform the DIEP Flap.
And……when you talk about your cancer, people give you gifts!
Loving all of my bracelets!!
Make time each week to Meal Plan
Drink 100 ounces of water each day
Exercise 5 days a week
Eat three meals and one snack daily
FOUR 100 Mile Walking Challenges this year! (This goal has changed a little now that I have this fabulous Fitbit.)
“love the life you live, live the life you love”