My Doctor Quit After Diagnosing Me with Cancer #NaBloPoMo

Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scenes surrounding a particular event. ~ Adrienne McDonnell {Guest Prompt}

I took the registered letter from the mailman and opened the envelope, a sheet of neatly folded paper slipped to the floor. I picked it up and unfolded it:

“Dear Mrs. Tucker,

This letter is to inform you that you have 30 days to find a new Primary Care Physician. I will no longer be your doctor for the following reasons:

  • You were verbally abusive towards my staff
  • You chose not to follow the recommendations of specialists that I referred you to
  • You did not like the way that I, as your doctor, was treating you

Please contact us to have your medical records forwarded to your new physician.”

Tears stung my eyes as I read and reread the letter. What had I done to deserve this? Why was my doctor quitting on me just when I needed her the most…

Less than 24 hours prior to receiving the letter, I had been standing in my kitchen listening as this same doctor told me that I had “a little bit of cancer” and that I’d need surgery. That was it, no explanation of what kind of cancer, no discussion of treatment, mortality rates, nothing. She simply said “You have a little bit of cancer and you’ll need surgery. Do you have any questions?” I stood there with tears streaming down my face, unable to speak. I think she took my silence for acceptance because she promptly hung up. Our final contact would be the registered letter that I received the next day.

For almost 5 years, I’d been feeling “off” ~ I was cold and lethargic, my hair coarse and brittle, my skin dry and flaky. But what scared me most was the greenish discharge coming from my breast. My doctor told me it was sweat. I’d been in the Army and I’d seen a lot of stuff come out of me ~ thank you, gas chamber ~ but I’d never seen green sweat come from my breasts. I asked to see a specialist and was referred to an endocrinologist. While performing his physical, he noticed that I had a lump in my throat and asked me if I had trouble swallowing. I told him yes, and I had been for several years but I was less concerned about that and more concerned about the discharge. He said he was less concerned about the discharge and more concerned about the nodule. He immediately wrote a prescription for a thyroid suppressing hormone, I suggested we do a biopsy. The doctor looked at me and said “You don’t need a biopsy, only middle aged white guys get thyroid cancer, you don’t fit the profile. And if it is cancer, it won’t kill you.” I immediately excused myself, got dressed and left his office.

The hubs and I made arrangements for me to go to Philadelphia to Thomas Jefferson Medical Center where a doctor performed a biopsy on the nodule in my thyroid and took smears of the discharge. They released the results to my primary care physician as is the norm with specialists. I called my doctor to get my results but was told that she was with a patient at the time and would call me back.

I waited almost 4 hours before I called back and was told that she was at lunch. I called back an hour later and was asked by the nurse “Why don’t you have your doctors in Philly give you the results?” I called the hubs and told him what happened, so he called the doctor’s office and an answering service picked up. Just so you understand, by this time it was Friday afternoon around 4 PM, which means that I would have had to wait until Monday to get my results… The hubs found the doctor’s home phone number, called and left a message demanding that she give me my results.

A few hours later, I was standing in my kitchen with my world crashing in on me. I started thinking about my kids, who were 8 years old, 6 years old, 6 years old and 4 years old at the time. What if I died? Did I have time to get everything together? Would my kids remember me?

National Blog Posting MonthFor years, I was hurt and angry. Even now, my eyes are watering at the memory of my treatment by my doctor. The truth is that I really liked this doctor, I didn’t even mind that she didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just wish that she’d been a little bit more aggressive in trying to find out. I have since forgiven her and to this day, I pray that if she or anyone she loves is ever in the same position that I was in that they will be shown more respect and understanding than I was.

I ended up having a complete thyroidectomy and having lymph nodes removed along with “diseased tissue” from both breasts. I’m now 10 years cancer free. My advice to you, is know your body and demand a second or third opinion until someone answers your questions. You deserve the best and your family deserves to have you around. Be your best advocate, even if it hurts your doctor’s feelings.

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