When I first met my oncologist, I had no idea he was going to deliver such devastating news to me on our first visit. I am sure it was no picnic for the doctor to walk in and tell me I have stage IV bladder cancer either.
Down to business right away
I remember he walked in, introduced himself, and it was 'here is your diagnosis, here is the recommended treatment plan and let's get started on this right away.' The first appointment was very down to business I guess you could say.
After I left the office I started to think: maybe oncologists don't get too close to their patients because cancer can take many turns very quickly, and oncologists try to keep a professional relationship but distance themselves from their patients for that reason.
I wanted my doctor to get to know me
I remember during the next couple of visits, the Nurse Practitioner would come in to see me. I didn't like that because I wanted to see my doctor. I wanted to see the doctor, the individual who is making the medical decisions about my health. I wanted my doctor to get to know me, and I wanted to get to know him.
On the next visit before I left the doctors office. I told my oncologist, "I have something important I want to talk to you about." I said to my oncologist how crucial it was for the two of us to develop that patient-doctor relationship. This is my life we are dealing with here. Each time I came in for a visit I wanted to see him, not an assistant unless it was necessary.
Establishing a relationship
The oncologist understood what I had told him and appreciated my honesty. From that point forward, my oncologist always made a point to see me. The only time he did not see me was if he was out of the office. Even then, he would let me know ahead of time that he was going to be out of the office.
So whenever I talk to newly diagnosed bladder cancer patients, I always make it a point to let them know to establish a patient-doctor relationship. Tell the oncologist what you need from them during this terrifying time of your life. Let your oncologist know you want to see them, and that it's important to see them every visit.
Editor’s Note: With heavy hearts, we regret to inform readers that on February 27, 2021, Curtis passed away from stage IV bladder cancer. Curtis’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to impact many. He will be deeply missed.