The Actual Dance is a play that presents the events of the year 2000 from the point of view of the spouse of the woman going through breast cancer. From diagnosis to her life as a survivor, Susan Simon, my wife has endured. An unlikely survivor. The Actual Dance is the story of that experience from my perch. The husband. This the 4th year of my October daily blogs, my focus is a bit more on myself
Day 18: Picking a Doctor: “I have a question for you? How the hell do you pick a cancer doctor? The Actual Dance
How do you pick an oncologist for your wife’s breast cancer? Short answer. YOU – the husband or spouse don’t. She does.
Picking the oncologist for YOUR OWN CANCER is one of the most important steps in the cancer journey. The doctor him or herself, their team, the hospital affiliations are all factors that can make a difference in YOUR outcomes. It might just be a life and death decision. Indeed, it will not be until years later that you can know if the decision was the right one.
Except it isn’t YOUR CANCER. It is her cancer. To add to the complication – when it is your spouse that is the patient – what is you’re the role? Who decides? Is the choice of a “cancer doctor” in a marriage a mutual decision?
In the play and in life I resisted the urge to take control of the process – a typical male response – and I came to understand that “I am not the director. No, my job is to be the supporter.” I resisted a very strong urge to take Susan to a major cancer center. Even as we were hearing the worst news and dire prognosis the last thing I wanted to add to our marriage was a “fight” over which cancer doctor to use. “So, it is Susan’s choice” are the words from the play.
I have been proud of that decision. Perhaps a bit righteous in my telling how “I let” Susan pick her own doctor. It has been pointed out to me though that my view of this part of the story is colored by the fact that Susan has survived. Had she not, I wonder how guilty I would feel for not having insisted on her seeking other opinions and treatment?
There are no easy answers on the cancer journey.
Stat of the Day: According to an AARP as of 2017 40 percent of family caregivers are male, which equates to 16 million men. Source
Task of the Day: Start finding resources that “speak to you” about your journey. Call a friend who has been through the same journey. Or check out this podcast about picking an oncologist.
Resource of the Day: iCare Do not pick a “doctor” pick a team. iCare presents a new approach to cancer treatment that coordinates patient, physician and research that are expert in the specific cancer and diagnosis of each patient.
The Actual Dance: Performances Donate