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Physician left

I received a call from my oncology department yesterday that my oncologist has left for medical reasons and won't be returning. I will be seeing a PA on Thursday. He is the only oncologist at the facility that sees breast cancer patients that I trust. One I had issues with back in 2015. The other one I learned when diagnosed with mets. Did one thing but wrote something else on the chart. I knew my oncologist was leaving at the end of the year. I have been looking at options but so far I haven't gotten very far. Maybe it the rainy weather but I have been going down a dark hole today and I am hoping by posting here it will help me climb out.

Switching to the other hospital in the area is not an option. They have only 3 Drs. Most patients are referred to a hospital an hour away.

I live in PA about an hour and ½ from Philly due mostly to traffic. Just not sure what to do and I feel like again this facility has left me down.

Has anyone ever had to find a new oncologist. I need so ideas about how to go about it? How do I find someone good?


  • candy-678
    candy-678 Member Posts: 4,086

    I am changing my oncologist this month. I go to a cancer clinic that has 4 satellite centers, including the main campus. I was traveling 2 hours one way to see my MO. I looked into one of the closer centers- 1hour and 15 minutes from my home- that is still in the same company, with the computers synced so all my records will move with me. But my current MO does not have office hours in the closer clinic. So I am going to have to change doctors. I asked my MO about the new doc, and she said she thinks I will like him. I will meet him this week. I hope it works out for me. And for you.

    Changing docs is hard. But there are so many reasons we usually do not stay with a doc for long- the doc leaves or retires, or our situations change (in my situation I wanted some place closer to home). This will be my 4th doc in the 6 years with my cancer. #1 doc moved out of state (I loved him and hated to see him go). I left #2 doc due to not communicating well with her. Now I am going from #3 to #4.

    I have to go for now…. but I will sign back on and respond further later.

  • candy-678
    candy-678 Member Posts: 4,086

    Sorry… someone was at my door.

    Anyway, what I was saying is my situation is different from yours, brutersmom. But there are going to be situations where we have to change docs, whether it be our choice or not by our choice.

    I would say to think about how far you are willing to travel for care. You mentioned most patients in your area are referred to someone an hour away. Can you do that? If you need to go frequently, for instance. I wonder if I can keep up going an hour and 15 minutes away if I will need to go frequently in the future. I may be moving docs again if, say, I need chemo treatments in the clinic versus the pills I use at home now.

    Next, what options do you have if you do travel? Is there an NCI accredited cancer near you? What is the reputation of the centers in, say, a radius of 100 miles? Would your current cancer center be able to direct you in your decision making? Are you willing to see a general oncologist versus a breast cancer specialist? My first and second MO's were general cancer docs, not specialized in breast cancer. They treated all types of cancer.

    But basically, I think it is a crapshoot. Even if you go to another center, you don't know if you will mesh with the new doc. You don't know if they will have a good bedside manner. Or if they will have the personality that you are looking for in an MO. I think a person just needs to be their own advocate and read up on our cancer care and have some ideas of what the next treatment/plan will be. That is what I do. I have a list of things to discuss with my doc when I finally do have progression. Next steps/options. Not just wait for the doc to direct my care plan. No, I am not a doc, but I have to live with the choices me and my doc makes.

    And remember that insurance also directs your decision. Who takes your insurance? You don't want to go out-of-network and have a large co-pay.

    I hope I gave you some things to think about and hopefully helped some. PM me if you want. I hope some others chime in here too.

  • brutersmom
    brutersmom Member Posts: 880

    Candy-678. Thank you. For your input. As long as they take medicare I am good. I did take a look at three major cancer hospitals near me. They are all a 1.5 hr. drive time into Philladelphia which is not my favorite place to go. I did search satellite centers and found one from Penn Medicine and one from John Hopkins within a reasonable drive from my home. I am thinking of making some calls next week before my appointment on Thursday. They were supposed to be bringing on a new oncologist who treated breast cancer patients but evey time I ask, I am only given the choice of the ones I am uncomfortable with. One is 69 and works with the fellowship program and sees patients part time. The other, I don't like. I saw both of them back in 2015 and would prefer someone else. I go once a month and get my meds from the speciality pharmacy at the hospital. My daughter works down the street so it is very easy for her to go along. Every thing is just so complicated sometimes.

  • irishlove
    irishlove Member Posts: 470

    @brutersmom I do have one suggestion. Could you try telehealth? My MO left and moved to south Florida this month. As of now my next appt. will be with a PA until they find a replacement. He offered me the opportunity to contact him if ever I need or want to by telehealth. I realize your MO is not coming back, but thought maybe you could make an appointment or two by telehealth to see how you feel about each doctor? Frankly I was quite upset when my MO said he was leaving. You develop a bond and trust this person with your life.


  • brutersmom
    brutersmom Member Posts: 880

    Irishlove. That is a good idea. My only problem there is, he left for medical reasons. He had retired and came back to help out in this facility due to lack of physicians. I see a PA on Thursday. I am going to try and get more info. I spent a lot of time on the internet today. I was reading reviews of the two remaining Dr. that I saw in 2916, I will not go back to either of them. Based on the reviews my assessment is not incorrect. I did find that John Hopkins recently open a facility Ephrata in partnership with Wellspan and Penn Medicine opened Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute at lancaster general hospital. It's not as convenient as Tower Health but they are a reasonable drive. We will see where it goes this week. Just so frustrating. This week my husband had a sudden loss of hearing in his right ear. The first line of treatment is not working. He is to have an MRI but it hasn't been scheduled yet. Just seems like it is one thing after another.