Q. I have been treated by my oncologist for cancer for over 2 years. It currently has spread and I've been referred to hospice care. I thought there would be more treatments available to me. My oncologist was so positive at the beginning and now I feel that she is avoiding me and I'm very hurt. Should I confront her?
Yes, you should talk to your doctor about your feelings and concerns. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your doctor. Many doctors have difficulty dealing with the emotional side of cancer and they may not know how to deal with their own feelings as well as those of their patients. Decisions around treatment should be discussed with the patient and ending treatment is a decision you should make with your doctor. What are her reasons? Is the decision to end treatment due to concerns about the benefits of treatment verses the risks and discomfort of continued treatment? You have the right to explore every possible medical treatment available. Are there clinical trials that may be available to you at this time? You may also consider seeking a second opinion. These are all questions that can be part of the discussion you have with your doctor.
The Cancer Information Service (1-800-4-CANCER), through the National Cancer Institute may be a helpful resource for you. They can provide the latest cancer treatment information as well as a list of comprehensive cancer centers and clinical trials.
It can also be helpful for you to speak to someone about what you are feeling. You’ve developed a relationship with this doctor over the last two years and this is an understandably difficult and painful loss. It is important to maintain hope and our social workers can help you to redefine hope even when cancer treatment may no longer be an option.