Wednesday, October 5, 2011
And who is in charge?
There is no standard plan for seeing doctors for follow up after cancer treatment as a rule. It can be very confusing. The hospital I go to has some standard protocols which help. But if you get your care from multiple medical offices/centers, it can be confusing to the patient.
I was told by my medical oncologist that she wants to see me every 4 months while I am on adjuvant therapy - which is currently the generic form of Femara - until early 2013 and then probably for a bit after that but less frequently because of bone density issues. I see my radiation oncologist annually but will ask her at the next visit for how much longer. That will be four years since the end of treatment. I was also told my surgeon will be the one, or his nurse practitioner, who will order my annual mammograms with a follow up appointment with the NP for life. (This is the annoying part because they always screw up the scheduling and some how make me feel like its my part but that's another post.)
I also see my endocrinologist yearly to have my thyroid levels checked and the standard is an ultrasound every five years. I didn't have an endocrinologist for a long time. Then the standard of care changed and I ended up back at one a couple of years ago (and then there was THAT ultrasound, blah, blah, blah). I will see her for life as well.
In addition fit in a PCP who is currently following me every three months and a pain management doctor for life and the knee doctor and a dentist, etc. You get the point. I see lots of doctors. Some of them will never go away. I realize that but it would be nice to reduce the frequency of visits. Can I ever ditch oncologists and surgeons and turn my care over to my PCP? I am not sure. I think in another year or so both oncologists will be things of the past - I hope. I am stuck with my surgeon for now. I may develop an exit strategy but I am on the fence. They are my last specialized breast cancer care.
I guess I want to be back in charge of my medical care. Can it ever happen again? Or maybe I just need to ditch a few doctors so I can stop going to all these appointments.