I had my hair colored yesterday with the woman who’s been doing my color for 2 years. She’s a color genius. Amazing, calm, not too chatty. She was a nurse in Peru before coming to the US. She has a soft touch. I would’ve liked her as my nurse…well she is sort of my hair-nurse. Another person does my cut at the salon. Trained in France, he is well known, an artist. He’s highly skilled, precise, careful. He knows hair. They are my team. Finding a stylist and colorist who are not only skilled, but trusted is an accomplishment—it’s sort of like winning the lottery. Ask most women, hair is an intimate experience.
OK, so what does this have to do with cancer you ask? I’ll tell you, it’s about having the right team. Not only a qualified, skilled, talented, reputable team, but a team you trust. A team that has the right touch. A team that cares about you and your diagnosis. I didn’t understand at the beginning of my diagnosis I would need a ten-year relationship with my doctors (surgeon, radiologist, oncologist, OB/GYN). I have a hard time keeping straight who I’m supposed to see and when.
First my surgeon. She is the dream doctor. Qualifications, all a check. She is professional, but that’s not why she’s my doctor---it’s who she is as a person that makes her my choice. She is direct, yet kind. She is efficient, yet spends time with me. At one appointment, she even tolerated a list of questions I brought with me from my husband. I’ve brought both of my sisters to appointments and again, she didn’t look as me as some big baby, she saw a scared woman who needed support. OK, Dr. M even texts! Yes, complete with emoticons. She is my gal.
On to my radiologist. Again, top dog here in the quals—it’s who he is that had my vote right off the bat. He gave a first name introduction at my initial meeting (his whole name sounds like some Vegas performer, I love it! Saying his name makes me smile). He’s a kick. Young, hip. Smart as crap and funny. In his dictated notes at the first appointment, he kept referring to me as “a pleasant, 51 one year old woman!” He said it three times! I teased him about it and he said there are plenty of people who aren’t pleasant, so I’ll take the complement.
Now on to “you’re fired!” My first oncologist, has the professional reputation and was recommended, but she was dry as toast. Dismissive almost. And yet I stayed, until I didn’t. What put me over the edge was how she handled the tumor testing and the final decision on chemo. The test was supposed to take two weeks. I called the office several times to follow up…here was the response “maybe it’s on the fax machine.” Really? Really? I’m waiting to see if I’m going to have to be sick as a dog, lose my hair and that was the response? Finally she called me a week later (5 minutes after I pleaded with Dr. M’s office to help) and she gave me the results. I had to ask, so this means no chemo? She said right, how does that sound? I wanted to jump through the phone and well, you know what I wanted to do! But I composed myself because I was checking out at Target of all places when I got the call (you take a cancer call no matter where you are). So I thanked her, hung up and proceeded to tell my Target cashier the following….yes, I really did this…
“You don’t know me, but I have cancer and I just found out I don’t have to have chemo.” He was lovely. He congratulated me and told me that was wonderful news. Yes, I was celebrating “no chemo” at Target with my cashier because cancer makes you do things you might not have done in your life, like celebrate each moment, take each piece of good news that you get and savor it like a little piece of candy. ** Note to self, I should probably let Target know that one of their employees was sensitive, kind and went above and beyond.
So I fired the oncologist. My new one is interested in me, curious, wants to know anything and everything about my health and other doctor’s appointments—cancer related or not. She’s feisty, a bit bossy….I like her just fine.
Who’s on your team?