I’m Breaking Up With My Oncologist




Dear John (and, ironically, his name really is John),

We’ve only been together for two months, but I feel that the strain in our relationship has finally taken it’s toll. I should have listened to my little voice when we met. You know, that annoying voice that a girl tries so hard to ignore when it whispers “He’s not the one”. But the voice is always right, no matter how we fight against it.

You were Mr. Available when I needed you. You were charming and bright-eyed, and you said all the right things. But something nagged at me. I felt in my heart that you had said those same words a million times before to countless other girls. “You have breast cancer, but it’s not the end of the world. We’re going to throw the kitchen sink at it, and we’re going to beat this thing”. How I wanted to believe in you. But I realize now that it was a script that you had memorized for just such an occasion.

I stuck with you, even though at times you seemed too busy and preoccupied for me. I forgave you. I rationalized it to myself. Then there were the off-handed comments. I remember just last week when you told me that my ovaries would “soon be dead” from the harsh chemicals. And in the next breath you made me feel stupid for icing my hands and feet to try to prevent nerve damage from Taxol. I had never seen this side of you before. You were almost mean, but you said it all with a smile, so who could fault you?

The final straw came last weekend, when I lay in my bed trying to recover from a brain-numbing migraine after treatment. I did everything I could to handle it with my usual fierce independence, but it wouldn’t relent. At 7am Saturday, I finally broke down and paged the doctor on call, hoping for some helpful advice or a magic spell. He was kind and did help somewhat, but in the end I just had to tough it out.

I know that your colleague filled you in Monday morning, but you never called to check on me. Knowing how upbeat and positive I am, and that I have never complained once about treatments, side effects, or about having this shit-ass disease in general, something should have clicked in your brain that this was definitely out of the ordinary. Something along the lines of “Wow, she’s my model patient, I’d better see what’s going on.” Instead, I had to call your office and try to get an appointment before my next treatment so we could figure out how to stop the post-chemo crash. You didn’t have any time for me, so I had to play phone tag with your nurse and make a decision about my options without your input.

I realize now, John, that we were just never meant to be. I’ve decided to move on and find an oncologist who really listens to me. I want somebody who speaks from his heart without rehearsing. I want someone who has a genuine passion for his patients and isn’t afraid to show it. I think I’ve found him. It’s too late for us, but I hope that you’ll work on some of these issues before the next girl comes along. She deserves better.


One Bad-Ass Cancer Babe

10 thoughts on “I’m Breaking Up With My Oncologist

    • Thanks! I held this one back for a few days because my old, not wanting to ruffle feathers self was wondering things like “what if someone reads this who has a connection to, or worse yet, works at the doctor’s office?”. Then I realized that people deserve to know that it’s ok to make these kinds of choices. Cancer patients deserve loving, supportive doctors.

  1. Good Riddance! I wish I could have done the same. Truth is my oncologist went to Italy for a sabbatical to study breast cancer just after our first consult. His replacement has seen my twice since I started and finished my FEC -T chemo regimen that is now complete. She was too busy to see me on our appointment days and I saw a Nurse practitioner instead. I think I need to write a letter like this! Hilarious.

    • Hello Lisa! A sabbatical in Italy, really!?! How do I get that job? It’s a sad state of affairs that our cancer wards are bursting at the seams and don’t have time to offer compassionate care. It feels like we are cattle being prodded along through treatment. “Go on now, hurry up. Get your treatment like a good girl and don’t ask questions.” How are you feeling now that treatment is over?

  2. You go girl! My friend dumped hers and was very happy with Number 2. After kidney cancer, my oncologist said, “Well, there’s no point in doing scans. If it comes back, you are going to die.” WTF!

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  4. Pingback: Well, I’ll Be Damned, She’s Back! | NOWHERE TO RUN

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