Friday, February 19, 2016

Select the Best Oncologist and Treatment Team for You

Good Morning Cancer Patients and Caregivers;

When you're born you can't select your parents or your siblings but when you are diagnosed with cancer, you can select your oncologist and your cancer treatment team. Most cancer patients are referred to an oncologist by another physician who identified the cancer, and most cancer patients go along with the referral. Unfortunately, a referral to an oncologist by the referring physician doesn't mean the oncologist referred is the right one for you. You know you are in trouble when during the first meeting the oncologist confirms the diagnosis of cancer and then informs you he can tell you how long you have to live. Keep in mind the oncologist has no skin in the game in the treatment and cure of your cancer. The oncologist gets paid to treat you for your cancer and gets paid whether you are cured or not.

Your battle with cancer is the worst battle of your life and for your life and you want an oncologist and treatment team that is committed to doing everything possible to cure your cancer and has the resources and intellectual capital invested to do so. You want the assurance you can take them into the trench fight with you and they won't abandon you when they have completed their prescribed regime of treatment but have not cured you of the cancer. Just because the oncologist is associated with a hospital that treats cancer and attends to cancer patients doesn't mean they are good at it; they invest in the treatment process and are current on the treatment regimes and drugs; they are familiar with the latest advances and new protocols being made for your cancer; and, are familiar with the leading cancer research and treatment hospitals. Oncologists are like mechanics, they know how to be a mechanic. The question is: Do they have the expertise, experience and resources to repair your make and model of car, and in your case, treat you and cure you of your specific type cancer; they won't give up and will keep working with you until they have you cured?

It is the responsibility of the cancer patient and the caregiver to select the best oncologist and treatment team for their cancer, one they are comfortable with and trust will do their best to cure their cancer. When I selected my oncologist he had been referred to me by the physician that diagnosed my cancer. I was fortunate that he had the commitment and stamina to use his resources to take me all the way through the treatment until I was cured.  When we met at our first of many office visits, I informed him he was to either cure me or kill me with the treatment but he was not to give up. He assured he wouldn't, and would say at every office visit " I must be curing you because I haven't killed you yet". I felt confident he would do everything he could and call on every resource he had at his disposal.

I have experienced too many cancer patients that didn't want to make the effort to select an oncologist that had the experience and expertise to treat their specific type of cancer. Some didn't want to go the extra distance or cross the river to go to the best oncologist for their treatment. Many waited to long to make the decision. When their current oncologist gave up they began the search for the best oncologist for their type of cancer. Unfortunately, too much time was wasted with their previous treatment which depleted their strength, stamina and immune system.

In the cancer treatment journey you have to control your own destiny and make the right choices. Selecting the right oncologist and treatment team is the first choice you make that should be right for you. You don't want to get half way through the journey and have to change oncologists and treatment teams. Making this choice is difficult to do when you are first diagnosed because the fear factor has such a tight grip on you. If you feel later on the choice was not right, then change your oncologist as quickly as possible. Remember the oncologist and treatment team are getting paid whether you win or lose.

Stay strong, keep your sense of humor and never give up

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