When I tell people that I'm an oncologist, they frequently assume my job is depressing. The opposite is true.
Yes, I have to deliver difficult and sometimes sad news to patients and their families. But I also see many patients who go through their cancer care with incredible bravery and go on to live very full lives afterwards.
My patients inspire me every day.
In getting to know my patients, I often hear that they have certain perceptions of me and other physicians.
First and foremost, I want my patients to know that I care for them and am fully committed to do everything I can to help make their cancer treatment a success.
Patients sometimes have a few misconceptions that I want to address.
Misconception #1: We don't want to be bothered with small stuff. Even small seemingly minor side effects can mean something. Always let your physician know what's going on, how you're feeling, what you're experiencing and if you have any new symptoms. We want to know what's going on with you throughout the course of your cancer care.
Misconception #2: We don't collaborate. In my role as medical director for the MD Anderson Regional Care Center in Katy, I see constant collaboration. We discuss every patient and his or her treatment plan. I often have discussions with other physicians outside of MD Anderson who have treated the patient before me, or while he or she is under my care. Physicians must work as a team to deliver the kind of care our patients expect and deserve.
Misconception #3: We don't care about our patients' time. I'm aware that physicians run late. As an oncologist, scheduling my day is extremely difficult. Cancer patients often have many questions and concerns, and it is my responsibility to address them. Sometimes a seemingly routine appointment can go much longer than planned, simply because a patient needs more of my time for a variety of reasons.
I always encourage my patients to come to every appointment with a list of questions, and I am committed to answering everything they ask. No cancer patient should leave an appointment with more questions than answers. Sometimes physician-patient conversations last longer than expected, which can cause scheduling challenges.
Misconception #4: We don't like you to get a second opinion. There is nothing offensive about a patient telling me that he or she wants a second opinion. Anytime you are apprehensive about a diagnosis or a recommended treatment plan, it's perfectly acceptable to consult with another physician. Patients should listen to their own inner instincts and do what is best for them.
Nikesh Jasani, M.D.'s clinical and research interests span a broad range of diseases including breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers. He is committed to providing compassionate, state-of-the-art multidisciplinary care.