self-serving oncologist or miracle worker?

dr onco

I don’t think I have EVER been negative about an oncologist. But this one I saw on TV recently in an NBC10 Philadelphia news segment just doesn’t sit right with me.

All this  it goes back to when I was newly diagnosed. I probably wrote about it somewhere on this blog.

I was just diagnosed and we were laying out my plan for surgery and treatment after and all the different tests and it was scary and overwhelming. It was terrifying if I am honest, but I just kept pushing through with the end game of being cancer free.

All of a sudden there were a couple of people who appeared out of nowhere that sold “cures”. It was super awkward in one instance because it was somebody I knew pretty well and when I turned their “cure” down I literally never heard from them again.  But did they really think I was going to forgo surgery and treatment and be treated with iodine to cure my cancer?

I forget what the other “cures” were but it’s like they came out of the woodwork at a time when my head was SO full.   If I had had a less strong personality some of these people probably would’ve taken advantage of me, and these kinds of people take advantage of people all the time. Not the people I encountered specifically, but there are people like this out there. So this report, right or wrong, sends up red flags for me personally.

Also I must note that two very important people on my care team at that time were also both survivors of breast cancer. And although they were physicians they did not heal themselves.  They also had their own treatment plans with their own doctors, and they did not impose their treatment plans on me because every cancer is DIFFERENT. And well, also wouldn’t that be ethically and morally wonky?

What they did do was share their knowledge with me of how certain things would go or say for example what the tattooing looked like if I had to have nipples removed as part of my surgery. They were knowledgeable so it made me like super comfortable because I knew if I had a question no matter how dumb, they were there for me.

All of my doctors did not (and still don’t have) have a problem with certain alternative things being added to my life post-surgery and post-treatment in the form of supplements and alternative therapies like bio energy as part of what I was doing but NOT in place of. The deal was I had to tell them about everything and it had to NOT interact with any of the drugs or radiation etc.

And I will note that they had me on zero supplements during radiation because they didn’t want things that fight free radicals fighting the radiation.

My care team has remained open to alternative therapies combined with traditional therapies, but they were very resolute that my cancer would be best served with traditional medicine.

So when a doctor comes along and wants to throw all of that out of the window it doesn’t sit right. And I listened to the interview and she was talking about what she was treated for and how she felt about her body. I. Me. My. I.Me. My. 

And while I respect that degree of self-focus in conjunction with her OWN cancer, and while I will respect different strokes for different folks, if she was TREATING me as my physician I would change physicians because I would wonder if she was foisting her personal beliefs on me as a patient at the risk of my life?

I will not she is NOT wrong about correlations between weight and cancer and I struggle with that thanks to tamoxifen.  But I am taking steps to deal with that.  I will not go straight vegan although some plants foods are super foods truly for breast cancer survivors and patients. I know women who have gone straight vegan who have ended up with other health problems.

I have my list of super foods my radiation oncologist Dr. Marisa Weiss (check out a recent interview here) teaches her patients about.  Because of her I got off commercial brand name antiperspirants and went for organic deodorants.  Now it took a while for my body to adjust, but it’s about reducing the chemicals. And I honestly don’t miss what I used to use. I have gone that route with lotions and shampoos and conditioners too when possible. Because of her I read labels and go more for organically grown food whenever possible. (Check out her non-profit Breastcancer.org )

I thought it was questionable of this television station to air this particular report. The doctor must have a publicist making the rounds? To me it was not much better than fake news. It was a fluffy piece, in my humble opinion, about a very selfish self-focused woman whom on camera gave off a vibe of having a serious screw loose. I felt like I was watching an infomercial and you would have a toll-free number at the end where you can sign up and pay her for whatever. As a survivor that really didn’t sit right with me.

I keep wanting to believe this doctor is different yet good,  but I keep getting snake oil saleswoman vibes. And no, I don’t have a problem with functional wellness. Or supplements as I take them. But I look at the good doctor’s website and then her interviews and wonder although she says as part of her mantra patients are heard, can they be heard above her talking about herself and her journey? We all have a journey, not trying to diminish hers but is it the most important one in the room when she’s the doctor and you are the patient?

As a woman in a breast cancer group I belong to said : “cancer is so multi factorial and complicated that while those may play a factor for some different types, it’s not a one size fits all, not even close.”

Another woman noted (and I agree 100%): “Ditching traditional treatment and replacing it with holistic? I believe it’s a death sentence. But combining traditional with holistic is fabulous and gives you a way more powerful tool for more effective treatment and a better quality of life as you go through treatment and recover.”

Yet another woman said something else that also so deeply resonated with me: “I wish people would understand that medicines come from natural sources – and have been shown to work to eradicate the cancer. Everyone I know that went the holistic route is dead, too. It makes me beyond sad.  Immunotherapy boosts the body’s natural healing. It is still a catalyst with something outside the body to make it happen. If the body, alone, was capable of healing itself from cancer, it would not have allowed it to happen to begin with.”

I can’t say oh my I wanted to take Tamoxifen for a decade and I wanted weeks of intense radiation treatment, but I knew I had to do it.  Tamoxifen has been an obnoxious journey as I have noted here, but I am NOT one of those women who is going to ditch traditional treatment with a good prognosis for a maybe trendy vibe. Will I be glad when Tamoxifen is over? Hell, yes. I have experienced a bunch of the side effects but I am here to complain about them.

I am a 9 year survivor soon. There are many worse off than me, and again every cancer is different. I am blessed and I know it.

Here are the links to media coverage on this doctor.  Start with the TV interview:

NBC10 Philadelphia January 31, 2020 Philly Oncologist Has Holistic Approach to Preventing Cancer

Philly Voice NOVEMBER 01, 2018 Einstein breast surgeon always has her head in the game

Main Line Today: Meet MLT’s December Cover Doc
Functional Medicine Specialist Dr. Jennifer Simmons Reveals Her “Magic Six” Keys to Health. BY MELISSA JACOBS

About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
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