There are no skeleton keys in cancer. Our journey isn’t a console game, we can’t enter a cheat code to speed through a stage and beat a boss. Instead we need a variety of keys to meet our needs. We must build and lead an all-star multidisciplinary team. How do I build this team? Identifying what we need is a big step, now it’s time to find the right people to fill those roles. Here are some useful techniques to ensure you land in the right place after your multidisciplinary leap.
If you have Neuroendocrine cancer, you must have a NET specialist.
If you don’t have one, I strongly suggest you contact your local NCAN chapter for support or visit the NCAN website for assistance. After you’ve contacted NCAN and have a few doctors in mind, how do you determine if they are right for you?
Selecting a doctor can be a troubling experience, where do we even start?
Our road is dark, so here are some tools to light your path, the last thing you want is to be blind, being led by the blind.
How do I choose my doctor?
People are unique and amazing, we all have special skills setting us apart from everyone else. Doctors are people and its important to remember that. They have personalities and approaches to life that may be different than yours. To know whether a doctor is right for you, you must know what you need and who you are.
Know your own personality: Take some time to get to know yourself. What is important to you, how do you communicate, how do you like to be spoken to? Are you shy, is it easy to share, how easily are you intimidated? Look at the company you keep, what kind of people do you surround yourself with and what are their personality types?
Know what you want: What are your expectations? Are you looking for someone to run the show for you or share in the decision making? How much information are you looking for, do you want the minimum to get by or an in-depth understanding of your disease?
Not all doctors are the same. It is important to have a doctor compatible with your personality, religious beliefs and ethics. Our health care providers are people, remember that, to receive quality care we need to feel like our needs are being met. If your doctor doesn’t understand your values, they will never understand what you need.
You should also be concerned with their background. What have they accomplished? What is their level of knowledge, what kind of training and experience have they had? Look online to see what they have written, get to know who they are through their literature.
Talk to people who have seen them a few times. Join your local NCAN support chapter and ask its members about the doctors they use. First hand information is a great place to start, but it should not be the deciding factor on which doctor you choose. Reputation doesn’t mean skill. Anecdotal evidence will lead you back down a dark path, it’s a pitfall of the blind leading the blind.
Now we have made it this far its time to merge the results of step 1 and 2. When you see your doctor open your mind and listen, have your thoughts organized and make short concise statements. The goal is to optimize the communication between you and your doctor. Consider recording what you have to say and listening to it before your appointment.
You are not obligated to stay with this doctor. If you feel uncomfortable or leave not understanding something, it is ok to find someone else. If you choose them to be your doctor you should never feel obligated to be loyal or faithful to them. If you are ever unsatisfied with your doctor, get a second, third or forth opinion.
Once you have found the doctor you trust, stick with them and continually work to make the most of your conversations.