My Team of Local and Research-Based Oncologists Is the Best of Both Worlds


Since I have stage 4 breast cancer, I wanted an oncologist affiliated with a research institution. However, I hated the prospect of frequent long drives for care. Luckily, I got the best of both worlds.

If you asked me four years and so many days ago when I was first diagnosed if I ever thought I’d be on my fourth and fifth oncologists, I’d tell you how crazy that must sound. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would change doctors and hospital systems this much.

We patients are unique, and our minds, bodies and emotions all matter — and sometimes, that means switching care teams until we find the right fit.

I feel that I most closely relate to a wildflower right now with my cancer. Wildflowers rely on roots to support standing tall, nutrients to stay alive, and most of all, care and respect for their ability to stay wild and strong.

After my September scans revealed progression to additional spots in my bones, I no longer felt that I was receiving respect and quality of care that I deserved. I always felt that getting another opinion can be beneficial when it comes to medical care.

At my second opinion appointment, I kept reminding myself, “You’re brave” (as NightBirde sings to us in her song, “Brave.”) While I knew this was the right thing for myself, nothing is ever as smooth with stage 4 breast cancer these days.

In this appointment, I found out that all my care would have to take place downtown, which was about an hour and a half from home. But I knew that we always chose research over doctors being super close to home. In my experience, I hadn’t found anyone very good for my care close to home. I needed the affiliation of a research hospital — all of which are very far from where we live. It’s a trade off.

Stage 4 disease requires monthly shots and lab work for me to see someone, and it’s a dilemma that I struggled with at my last treatment center. It gave me so much anxiety, and I was just so tired of the exhaustion from taking half days, if not full days, every monthto go do this. I gathered courage and strength, stood tall and voiced my wild free self, pleading for another option.

In my diagnosis history of four-plus years, this is the first time someone granted me my wish. Finally, I have the best of both worlds —the research of the big-name hospital, plus local care of another oncologist. My current oncologist will be my “guiding/consulting” oncologist who will oversee and watch from afar, while my local oncologist will order my medications, labs and scans, and basically treat day to day. I found a decent guy close to home with a good background, and supportive nursing team that seems to understand the direction of my guiding oncologist.

My darkness of grey skies seems to have lifted some, and finally it seems like I’ve found the right place all along. My wildflower self is dancing in the wind and breathing a sigh of relief. I’m pretty sure my sunshine horizons aren’t too far, and while I wait patiently, this is joy to celebrate. Always remember to celebrate all the little things, even if it’s just finally making something better for you.

You’re brave, wildflower.

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