My Oncologist’s Reaction When I Stopped Tamoxifen

Galadriel_-_ROTKI’ve been wanting to write about my oncologist for a while and finally I am taking the time to tell you about her! But first I want to apologize as I know it’s been a month since my last post. I have been dealing with my next door neighbor who has been upset with me because I am renting out my rooms which helps to pay for all the treatments I am receiving.  Most recently, fireworks were set off in my driveway at 11pm! More on that in a future post…

Anyways, I am soooooo excited to tell you about my oncologist, because when I decided to stop the Tamoxifen, I was anxious about how to tell her. She reminds me of the character Galadriel in Lord Of The Rings. Tall, elegant, and fashion forward with a bohemian flair. She is also a jazz singer and I recently got to hear her sing which was such a treat: watching her have fun and play with the audience was a hoot!

stylish-jazz-singer-11799222

I have been raised to respect authority by my parents. So, the decision to stop the medication was a difficult one for me. In order to get up the nerve to tell her which I knew I would have to eventually, I had to go to a support group!

After about 2-1/2 weeks of processing in group, I finally sent her an email. I didn’t want to write a long email about why I stopped but, I felt I still needed to let her know my process. Luckily, I had written it all out in a previous blog which I sent her. Her response was more than I could have hoped for–in fact it made me cry because I was so touched!

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Here is what she wrote:

Hi Jenn,

Wow.  That is a powerful passage.  I support you in your decision and am happy that you tried to take it and kept an open mind.  You, however still need long-term follow-up with me so I can make sure you are well and safe, so I will see you at our next appointment.  I don’t want you to ever feel scolded or that you disappointed me or your other doctors.  We are here to help and advise you but ultimately to respect your choices as a woman and as a person.

Thanks for sharing this with me.”

I shared the above with a friend who also has the same doctor as me. I thought her response was so succinct and it really resonated with me that I’m posting it here as well:

This makes me feel good, for you and Dr [Galadriel]. You for saying what you really feel, and what lots of patients (especially women feel). You didn’t just take the easy answer: “I’m quitting because of the side effects”). We need a voice and Drs need to hear how hard this can be. I’m glad you did this for you, and for others who feel the same way. I love how she is quick to make sure you know she wants to make sure you keep coming so you can stay well, really this Dr. response should be framed, I really like Dr. [Galadriel], this makes me like her even more.

Doctors can have a powerful positive influence on patients or not.
Doctors can have a powerful positive influence on patients or not…

I am blessed with doctors who are so human. I know this because in my support group I heard of another patient whose oncologist was offended when she got a second opinion. The patient actually felt like she had to apologize for upsetting her doctor which seemed bizarre to me. Needless to say, this patient did not end up staying with that physician!

Our relationships with our doctors will last anywhere from 5-10 years or more; so, if you can’t be yourself, be supported, and be respected by your team of doctors, then it might behoove you to choose someone else.

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