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Can We Trust Our Doctors Too Much?

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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!

Pat

8 Comments

So right Pat! I am always encouraging fellow patients I meet to get a second opinion on both diagnoses and on treatment options! If I had stayed with my first Oncologist who wanted to put me on drugs that would have hurt my stem cells I would not have been able to use them at a later date for a SCT if needed. I have not had a SCT but have my stem cells frozen just in case I ever need one! Lucky I went for the second opinion before any type of treatment! I am happy to say that is one reason I have been LIVING with Myeloma for 11 yrs! SEEING a MYELOMA SPECIALIST is a necessity when having this cancer!

I am agreed with you Pat. While reading the woman's story, i remember that there also happened quite similar incident in my family. My mom had arthritis and she suffered a lot. We visited and consulted a number of well known doctors, but nothing good happened. Then someday, one of her friend took her to a physician, who was not well known and you know..its amazing than, my mom is well now and fully fit.

I hope you will go back to side effects and how to deal with them after a stem cell transplant. I have been waiting for more.

Thanks.

where do you get treatment?

How do you determine who is good or not. Can you know this before during or after treatment. I think you are part of a team to insure proper treatment and do your own research will give you a better chance for long term survival.

I was diagnosed last March. My Oncoligist is doing a good job, most of the time I feel like I am her only patient. I am doing well, in just four months my MM numbers are down to remission levels. I am happy. BUT, I could have written the prescriptions for Velcade, Revilmid, and Dex after reading as much as i have on the internet. How do I know she isn't just lucky. Real experts are the ones who make progress in difficult times. I have had second opinions from the MM team at NIH and have met with a bright doc at UMD preparing got SC harvest. They give me confidence in my oncologist by their agreement in her level of care. It's not easy living on this end of a life threatening disease.

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