I met a wonderful woman recently at a support group meeting. Before and after I spoke to the group, she shared her experience with me, gushing several times that her new medical oncologist made her feel special.
He doesn't enter the room keeping one hand on the door while he pretends to listen to me," she said.
Apparently she had recently relocated from a larger metropolitan area to a much smaller, friendlier town in the Pacific Northwest. But the woman suffered from significant bone damage caused by her multiple myeloma. And she also mentioned several serious co-morbidities that would have me packing my bags and heading to see a big city specialist!
Considering that a number of other support group members had expressed disappointment with their local oncologists, I'm pleased for her. Crafting a good relationship based on trust of one's doctor can be a special thing.
But it can have a dark side. Blind trust in the guidance of any physician can become problematic for a multiple myeloma patient, especially if the physician isn't a specialist. And even then, a second opinion is almost always a good idea whenever we find ourselves facing an important therapy crossroad.Bedside manner is important. But I will take a curt, hurried or difficult-to-understand specialist who will work with me to craft a new therapy course of action over a friendly, less well-informed doctor who tends to make decisions for me any day! Several of my uncles were physicians. One of them was the chief of staff at a large western hospital. When my wife, Pattie, was first diagnosed with cancer 16 years ago, he advised me to "Find the most knowledgeable specialist you can for her, then do whatever it takes to get an appointment." He made no mention of how that physician and my wife might or might not get along. It was all about the insight and expertise her new specialist brought to the table.
Finding a medical oncologist that is ready and willing to help you coordinate your therapy is the cornerstone of building a solid healthcare team. My advice? Shop around until you find a medical oncologist that gets you. But make sure that he or she is willing to work closely with--and ultimately follow the recommendation of--one or more myeloma specialists.Feel good and keep smiling!