Community Shares: Finding a Good Oncologist for Advanced Breast Cancer

The right oncologist can make a radical difference in your experience with advanced breast cancer. He or she can instill hope, provide education, and leave you feeling empowered. To hear more about your experiences with oncologists, and what you look for in an oncologist, we reached out on the Facebook page and asked: “What does a good oncologist look like?”

Nearly 50 community members shared, and here is what you shared.

Spends time with the patient

Cancer is complicated, both as a physical disease affecting the body and an emotional stressor affecting the person. It helps to find a doctor who takes the time to explain the details of your personal diagnosis in a way you understand. This takes time, as cancer is complicated. Add to that the fact that most people are stressed when visiting the oncologist, making it hard to hear what the doctor is saying. A good oncologist will not be frustrated, but rather, will have patience.

  • “Sits down, puts the chart to the side, makes eye contact, and does not rush you out. During my first appointment with my oncologist, he spent over 2 hours explaining every detail of the cancer to us, including treatment options and why the one he chose was best for me. Plus, the staff always returned my calls within 20 minutes whenever I had any questions.”
  • “He/she sits down and looks at you. They are not hurried when they talk to you.”
  • “One who treats the whole patient.”

Holistic approach to managing advanced breast cancer

Several of you shared the importance of finding a doctor with a holistic perspective — one who looks at your whole health and personal history, not just what is happening with your advanced breast cancer. Different people may be better candidates for different treatment options. Likewise, there is immeasurable value in being seen as a whole person, not just as someone who has cancer.

  • “At a very basic level, a doctor who treats a patient as a whole human and is not focused on ego, but on the best possible life for the patient.”
  • “A good oncologist is one who treats the whole patient. They understand that every person is a unique individual with quirks, foibles, strengths, and weaknesses. A good oncologist is one who sees the person and treats the disease.”

Positive outlook

The oncologist is a big piece of the starting point in dealing with advanced breast cancer, and one who is hopeful about your diagnosis will likely encourage you to be hopeful as well. Whether or not you believe in it, one theory holds that having a positive outlook toward cancer can help guide someone to a longer life. Regardless, it cannot hurt to have a doctor who is championing your survival and success.

  • “Positive and has a good outlook on your care.”
  • “One that makes you feel you are going to make it!”

Explains advanced breast cancer treatment options

“Tells you there are a lot of options and explains them to you.”

Your path with advanced breast cancer may be very different from the next person’s. As such, you may want to try different treatments and therapies — maybe even explore alternative therapies, as is your right. A good oncologist will help you along the way, providing information and helping you personalize your treatment plan to find what is going to work best for you.

  • “Does not put a toe tag on you with an expiration date, but tells you there are a lot of options and explains them to you. When you come up with something you want to try, like chiropractic or massage, they are open to it and even explain other patients’ experiences with these.”
  • “Gives you the resources that you need - like Chemo Buddies on Facebook.”

We want to say thank you to everyone who shared their story. We appreciate every single one of your comments.

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