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Breaking up with your oncologist

SaramSaram SydneyMember Posts: 11
edited June 2019 in General discussion
hi all,
im new to this forum and about half way through my AC/taxol chemo ‘journey’. 
I’m a stage 3 triple positive, on the menu is chemo, mastectomy, radiation, hercepton and likely neratinib (when I get sick of constipation and want to change it up a little). 
I have an oncologist and whilst she is nice, I just don’t feel like I click with her. I feel like I’m being provided a service and I seldom leave her appointments uplifted. She’s pretty black and white and straight down the line. Trying to make her laugh with my satirical humour is almost impossible. I’ve been trying to crack her now for a good 12 weeks. No joy. 
However my surgeon and my new radio oncologist when I meet them, I feel happy afterward.
A friend says I’m mad to stick with her and should find a new oncologist. So I’m just wondering has anyone had any experience with finding a new oncologist and the reasons that they did so? And also, how they did it?
i feel like if I leave I should be kind and find a way to explain ‘it’s not you it me, we just don’t click’. Because she’s not crap, she’s just maybe not someone I’d have a wine with.



  • BlackWidowBlackWidow Lake GardensMember Posts: 188
    Perhaps ask your surgeon or radio oncologist for suggestions as to changing, maybe they will know of someone more in tune with your personality.  maybe she takes a while to warm up to and appreciate your sense of humour.  It is your body and your life so go ahead and change if you feel you need to do so  I have to say that I'd prefer someone straight down the line at this point and maybe over time you will crack her veneer.  Good luck.
  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 4,086
    She sounds very focused. In time when you are nearly through treatment you may crack a smile. 
    Take care 
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,957
    Hi @Saram
    Oncologists are just like any other service provider. They don't see themselves as being in the same league as the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, but the reality is the only reason you would stay with one you don't like is lack of other options. If you want to see someone else, see someone else and don't feel you need to apologize.

    I've sacked three over the years and have finally found my happy place (if there is such a thing when someone wants to take you to the point of death) with an onc who genuinely seems to regard me as a complex human rather than a reluctant contributor to their next holiday or Chanel suit. And he laughs at my black humour.  

    It's a long term relationship, we hope, so it's worth getting it right. Mxx
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 3,741
    Hi @Saram - welcome to the forum!  Feel free to put up any question re anything!   I am sure someone will have an answer or suggestion for you!

    Where abouts are you (State/town) as someone may be able to suggest another Onc near to you.

    I had the same situation with my original Onc as well - I just didn't 'gel' with him either and actually found him to be very dismissive of my concerns re the side effects of the AI tablets that I am on.  He just didn't believe me!  I actually saw him rolling his eyes the last time we met, with me once again, mentioning the nasty side effects and how to mitigate them!  So I have changed to a lovely lady Onc who is terrific (tho she is currently pregnant, so will be out of the picture soon for some months.)  Funny that - my GP has just given birth as well, so looks like it is catchy!  

    I hope you are able to find someone you get along with - I think it is really important to be 'confident & happy' with your medical team, as we'll be with them for many years to come!!

    Take care & all the best for your treatments  xx
  • SaramSaram SydneyMember Posts: 11
    Thanks ladies, all very good food for thought. I’m based in South sydney.
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,871
    Hi @Saram. I didn't click with my oncologist either. She's really nice and I believe the care I received was perfectly fine. I did feel a little like a number at the time. Like you I'd clicked with my BS.

    I was in exactly the same place you are, debating whether or not to find a new one when she up and quit private practice. My BS and breastcare nurse did not recommend the other oncologist in the practice for me and by now knew me much better. The onc I now see suits me more. So far anyway! I've only seen her once, seeing her again on Tuesday.

    It's a long term relationship. It's worth getting it right. You don't have to explain if you don't want to. K xox
  • SaramSaram SydneyMember Posts: 11
    @kmakm that’s sort of how I feel, like I’m being provided a ‘service’ and not much more. I feel like she’s waiting for me to crack or something as I rarely get upset I’m pretty task oriented and just get on with it. 
    Weirdly I absolutely hate getting ‘cancer sympathy face’ from my friends and family or strangers...but I’d like it from my onc! Lol
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,871
    @Saram Oh good grief yes, pity face is awful!

    It's a weird thing that psychology isn't it? It's like we need to know these medical professionals feel sorry for us so that we can perceive a personal investment in the care we receive from them. If they care, they'll try really hard when they're treating us. Right?

    This need makes me feel guilty when I think about the people the oncologist is treating who have far more serious cancers than mine. But I refuse to be a number.

    It's an emotional requirement because of course they are required to give us the best care they can regardless of how they feel about us. I like to think that's mostly what happens.

    When it's a life threatening illness it's always emotional. I think it's very human that we seek a connection with our clinicians. K xox
  • KattykitKattykit Member Posts: 227
    My oncogist is just the best, she is on maternity leave at the moment but has been texting me regularly to see how I'm going while she is away and has sent me pics of her beautiful new baby girl, I miss her but gosh she goes above and beyond and I will be happy when she comes back.
  • SaramSaram SydneyMember Posts: 11
    @Kattykit YASS! I need one of THOSE oncologists!  My GP is like that, just so relatable. 
  • KattykitKattykit Member Posts: 227
    This is literally my life she has in her hands, I need to be able to trust and have mutual respect in and with my doctor. I hope you can find that perfect fit you @Saram
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,534
    I think any capable oncologist will do the job but one who you can relate to is the one who will listen to what you are saying to make sure the treatment is right for you.  And as @zoffiel and others have said, you're in this relationship for the long haul.  Good luck @saram
  • KarynJKarynJ SE QldMember Posts: 173
    Please don't think this is a flippant comment because it's not intended that way. But @kmakm post reminds me of something Prof Noel Fitzpatrick the Supervet says. "The patients need to know how much you care before they care about how much you know." 
    I didn't like the oncologist assigned to me through the public system. I requested a new one through the breast care nurse but didn't like the 2nd one either. I found my own through private. 
    @Saram don't feel bad if want to change. It's absolutely your right.
  • BlondyBlondy Ruse Member Posts: 208
    @saram .I'm southwestern Sydney with a very nice female onc. Has no airs or  graces and I always feel like I'm  not on a timer with her. PM me if you'd like her name.
  • NewBoobsPLSNewBoobsPLS Panania, NSWMember Posts: 20
    @blondy and @Kattykit who was your onc???
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