Taking Responsibility for Our Own Cancer Treatment

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

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I have a theory. If everyone of us took the time to consider the consequences of our actions before we said or did something, we could create a really different life for ourselves. I came to this conclusion many years ago following my first oncology appointment. Briefly stated, I had had a consultation with a doctor to whom I had been referred by the medical group in which I was enrolled. At the end of that consultation, I was quite uncomfortable with the way he had established my course of treatment after my lumpectomy. But then I started to second-guess myself. After all, I am not a doctor. What do I know about breast cancer treatments? But, I just could not shake the feeling that there was something wrong and that perhaps part of the hesitancy on my part was that I didn’t want to confront the matter.

If everyone of us took the time to consider the consequences of our actions before we said or did something, we could create a really different life for ourselves. Barbara Jacoby

Over the following weekend, I remained extremely unsettled but I knew in my gut that I could not just let the matter go. I knew that I did not want to create any type of a bad situation for this doctor. After all, he just wasn’t the right one for me but I am sure that there are plenty of other individuals who have been very pleased with him. I knew that I needed to find another doctor but I wasn’t sure how I should do that. So, I went back to my primary care physician for a recommendation. She immediately provided a new recommendation and submitted a request for authorization. But what I didn’t know at that time was that the new doctor was in the same office as the doctor that I was “firing.”

The situation was growing for me. I called the new doctor’s office to make an appointment and I explained to the kind assistant that I had this unusual situation. I needed to see the new doctor but what would I do if I encountered the doctor that I did not want to see again? I definitely am not a confrontational person and I was so nervous about the whole situation. The only thing that made it a bit easier is that the receptionist explained that there was a second, private entrance into the suite of offices and she told me how I could access the new doctor’s office from there.

As I waited for the day of my appointment to arrive, I kept running over and over in my mind how I would explain my presence if I ran into the first doctor with whom I had consulted. What could I say without coming off “wrong”? I’d wake up during the night trying to figure out exactly what I might say and then I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was getting nervous with the anticipation of what might happen.

But finally after repeating this behavior for an entire week, I decided that enough was enough. I had taken into consideration all of the information with which I had to work. I respected the referral to the new doctor to whom I had been sent. Yes, there was a possibility that I would run into the first doctor but if I did, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I didn’t owe him any explanation. And if I saw him, all I needed to do was to acknowledge him and then move on or look away.

I must say that I did feel a bit unsettled every time that I sneaked into the back door of those offices for my appointments but as I learned, my referral to the new doctor was exactly the right thing for me. I completely trusted and respected the new doctor and I was so proud of myself for trusting my instincts and making the request for a new referral.

Oh, and by the way, I did see the first doctor again on one of my visits to those offices. As he walked by the examination room where I was waiting for my new doctor, he got a look on his face like I was someone that he had seen before. But, thank heavens, he never stopped or looked back! But, this situation was the catalyst for my ultimately becoming a patient advocate and my fervent desire that every patient becomes involved in their own treatment. And, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to trust your own instincts and get that second opinion. Regardless of the final outcome, you will be glad that you did, even if it is just for your own peace of mind.