25 June 2007


Mixed messages, again

Back in February, before I had my first, small cancer surgery, as the date approached I started getting a weird set of mixed messages from surgeons, doctors, medical offices, and so on—like they weren't communicating with each other properly, or weren't noticing that they were sending me conflicting information and requests about dates and appointments.

As my planned July 26 major surgery date approaches, it's started happening again. Three days ago I called my surgeon's office quite specifically to see if my wife's planned trip out of town in mid-July could possibly cause a conflict, i.e. would my July 26 date be moved earlier for any reason? They said no. Then this morning they called to say that the date might move forward (I had to remind them about my call on that topic on Friday!), and could I meet with another surgeon on Wednesday? Then this afternoon, a different person from the same office called to say that my original surgeon wanted me to meet with a urologist—on one of the dates the first person had said could be my surgery date.

Once again, WTF? Now I have no idea what the hell is going on. I meet with Dr. Kennecke my oncologist tomorrow, and Dr. Phang, one of the surgeons, on Wednesday. I hope we can sort something out. Fighting cancer has a significant mental component, and right now the confusion and uncertainty are not helping matters. I want to make sure my medical team understands that.

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Dear Derek:

Be a strong advocate -- if you aren'T able to muster the strength, ask your wife. Be polite, but be firm, and make sure you are comfortable with teh care you're being offered.

Are there patient advocates on staff at the BCCA? Can you use them?

If there's a doctor you feel a good bond with, ask his or her advice as to how to keep all of this -- or get all of this straight.

Don't stop til you're okay with it. It is your body. It is your cancer. Lead the treatment as much as possible.