What do we look for in a cancer doctor?

Do they need to have a bag full of “must haves” that aren’t required of other doctors?

It’s probably unfair, but first impressions go a long way in doctor to patient relationships.  The first time that doc opens the door and enters the room, he/she is judged beginning that instant.  Really, it’s true.  It may not be fair, but that’s the way it is.  We all look for compassion in our doctors.  They have to show that they care.  That old “bed side manner” really counts in cancer world.  So COMPASSION is high on the list.

SMART….they have to be smart.  I mean all doctors have got to be smart, but some show their “smartness” better than others.  Some think outside the box when it comes to treatment.  Others make you feel like you’re the only patient they’ve got….and your care is more important than anything else in the world.  That’s smart.

OPEN and AVAILABLE….A doctor who is open is a doctor who will listen to what the patient has to say.  They have to be open to listening to what the patient is thinking…it’s one of the most important parts of treating a cancer victim.  Being open lends itself to being AVAILABLE.  The two go hand in hand.  Being able to reach out and connect with your doctor and hearing back from them quickly is extremely important.  None of this emailing back after days of silence….that just doesn’t work.

A CANCER COMPANION…Cancer docs need to be companions in this fight.  Care givers, family, loved ones, friends…they all help, but being able to reach out to your doctor and feel like he/she is standing right there next to you, with knowledge and understanding makes this struggle easier. 

There are some classes in med school that try to teach these skills, but so much of it comes from the heart.  There’s not a class that I know of, that can teach from the heart.

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