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Topic: Doctors who have breast cancer themselves

Forum: Australians and New Zealanders Affected by Breast Cancer —

Australian health care, clinical trials, and life in general in the land down under.

Posted on: Nov 3, 2019 04:57PM

evelyn7 wrote:

I would like to get in touch with other doctors who have had breast cancer themselves . I have found my journey and the reaction I have had has somewhat caught me by surprise and have discovered that I have some unique needs because of my medical knowledge and awareness. Just because I have medical knowledge does not mean , however, that I am any better prepared. I feel that reaching out to others to see if there is a need for a special peer support group may be helpful, not just for me.

Dx 5/8/2019, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy Radiation Therapy Surgery
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Nov 3, 2019 05:06PM - edited Nov 3, 2019 09:50PM by wrenn

I'm sorry you were diagnosed. It is a lot to take in no matter what your vocation. I am not sure there would be a group specifically for physicians or nurses and the many many others with medical knowledge but what about posting a notice at your cancer centre? I am not sure how having medical knowledge would make a difference or would be peer specific enough. Like lawyers who get into legal trouble there wouldn't be much other than the one thing you have in common so maybe just a general breast cancer support group would help?

Edited to add (after the scolding). :-) I thought you meant a local in person group and thought there wouldn't be enough members to make it worth while. My EPOE4 gene active early me thinks. Sorry. I think a specific thread sounds good.

Metaplastic IDC Triple negative...Tumour is 1.5cm. BMX Aug. 16th. Chemo cancelled after one dose due to complications. Dx 7/25/2013, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 8/16/2013 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Nov 3, 2019 05:24PM - edited Nov 3, 2019 05:34PM by thisiknow

Let's not be the best example of why doctors like evelyn7 need their own subgroup here.Smile I actually think it's a great idea. It's what I'd want if I were a doc. Go for it!

Age 72 @dx - Oncotype 4 Dx 8/2019, DCIS/IDC, Both breasts, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Radiation Therapy 10/28/2019 Whole-breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy: Left, Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel
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Nov 3, 2019 05:29PM evelyn7 wrote:

HI Wrenn

What I have found is that when others find out you are medical, they sometimes lean on you for medical advice themselves, which is OK to a point, but not always. Also I live in a regional small city which makes privacy in a general group difficult especially in my professional capacity. I know that peer support would help so am just reaching out to see if there is a similar need felt by others.

Dx 5/8/2019, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy Radiation Therapy Surgery
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Nov 3, 2019 05:59PM Beaverntx wrote:

evelyn, I can identify. I retired early from practice in nursing as a specialist in women's health several years ago. I've kept fairly quiet about that because I knew from past experience that when you are the patient being on the " other side" has a totally different perspective. Also, because I dealt primarily with pregnancy and early parenting I had (and have) a lot to learn about BC. You might consider including other health care practitioners in your search for a support group as I believe we all are likely to face similar issues of being asked for information when we are seeking support. Feel free to PM me if I can be of any support.

Diagnosed at age 77-- Oncotype 17, dealing with this bump in the road of life!!🎆 Dx 1/24/2018, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IB, Grade 3, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Dx 1/30/2018, DCIS, Right, <1cm, Stage 0 Surgery 1/30/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 3/11/2018 Whole-breast: Breast Surgery 6/15/2018 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Nov 3, 2019 06:14PM evelyn7 wrote:

Hi Beaverntx

What you suggest is very helpful. I agree that things are totally different from the other side. It's not easy negotiating the health system this time as a patient, understanding your vulnerability and dependency on how others deliver your care, and the emotional roller coaster along the way. It's not that I mind at all helping others who need more information, and can gladly point people in the right direction, and that is the role I am familiar with. But this time around I need to have my specific support needs acknowledged met as well, and would like to find others in the same boat. Like you I have tended to keep things fairly quiet and this can work for and against you as I think you will appreciate.

Thanks for responding

Dx 5/8/2019, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy Radiation Therapy Surgery
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Nov 3, 2019 09:36PM Moderators wrote:

Hi there, Evelyn7! We can certainly understand the unique perspective you have, as someone in the medical profession who has been diagnosed and is now navigating it from the patient side. We agree that a support group for people in the medical field could be incredibly helpful - you're more than welcome to start a thread here and open it up to the community for support!

The Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Nov 4, 2019 12:15AM - edited Nov 4, 2019 02:40AM by Wildplaces


I am a medical practitioner, an anaesthetist - I work on the GC Australia - and I was diagnosed 3 years ago. I told everyone in my practice - hard not to - there are 3 women and 23 men in our group and two of us were diagnosed within a month of each other. The two of us had coffee and talked about it once - we talk a lot about work. She is a cracking hot professional an I have respect for her style of practice. We chose different surgeons, different oncologist and had different treatment paths although both HR positive. I chose not to tell Melbourne and the tertiary hospital I worked in until 6 years ago ( I did not see the point - although I did get some information from a pathologist and an oncologist from Melbourne).

I agree with you and I will be specific - I think the doctors with BC make an interest cohort. If for nothing else then for some of the questions I have been asked since diagnosis - does being a patient myself make more empathetic?? No actually it makes me tired and cranky - and I work less and exercise more - so, no, I am afraid I am not a better doctor or mother or woman for having BC. Do I advocate more for BC? Yes absolutely BUT before I had other causes that caught my interest and I worked harder at them then now....You get my drift.

I get the impression you are newly diagnosed - please feel free to PM me. There is a great member Traveltext - male Brisbane - he read a rather accurate post on my diagnosis experience and the workings of my treatment plan ( including having three of the surgeons I gas for offering to take my breast off - it was honest and raw - I deleted it- mostly because I thought no one would get it - funny he did, but he is a clever bloke - later I learned he is an editor. Edit : Having said that I did get swift access to services on the Coast and everyone around me has been super supportive. I dont what was in the water here three years ago because several nurses got diagnosed as well - they too got treated timely - and to be honest I have had more BC conversations with them than my rooms colleague - I guess there is a shared knowledge assumption, where as the nursing staff are happier to ask questions, chat.

On a practical level when I try and see too far ahead I remind myself to focus on the days, weeks, months in front. I am outdoors a lot more and love it.

That is it from me for now:)

Edit again Omy gosh the typos but if I stop for syntax the ideas will not stop for me....

Dx 8/5/2016, DCIS/IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 8/11/2016 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic ovary removal Chemotherapy 9/11/2016 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 2/21/2017 External: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Nov 4, 2019 12:22AM Pessa wrote:

I am a physician (Internist/geriatrician). Was diagnosed with breast cancer 2010, s/p bilateral mastectomy, chemo (A/C) and just stopped anastrazole after 9 years, due to developing severe osteopenia. I developed lung cancer 2013. S/p R upper lobectomy and R middle lobectomy after progression. Further progression developed and I am on a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (Tagrisso ) for the last 18 months, which has resulted in NED. I get a chest CT every 3 months. It became too difficult for me to continue to work full time, due to the side effects of the meds (mostly fatigue and generalized weakness) so I retired (at age 67) 7 months ago. Being a physician has enhanced my ability to communicate with my physicians. I certainly have taken care of patients at the end of life with breast or lung cancer and am not looking forward to that. So I guess my experience has added a bit to the fear factor, knowing what is upcoming (I hope many years in the future). I know of no other physicians in my current situation. Feel free to PM me.


Dx 2/20/2010, IDC, <1cm, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 5/5/2010 AC Surgery 10/22/2010 Lumpectomy: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 11/20/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Nov 4, 2019 02:02AM Traveltext wrote:

There’s a few doctors with breast cancer hanging out on Twitter, a female surgeon from Sussex, Liz O’Riordan, is one that comes to mind, and Kelly Shanahan from California is another. The hashtag #bcsm is one to follow

I can imagine why you’d like to link up with your profession evelyn7. I can vouch for gas expert Wildplaces. She has a sense of humour to boot, something which, when acquired in this medical setting, is quite refreshing and a welcome distraction.

But, don’t be shy interacting on the boards that interest you here, since this is the home of some great long-term patients who have been there, done that, with every aspect of this crappy disease.

If you decide to stay, put in your signature details and that makes it easier for members to remember your diagnosis and treatment details.

NED breast and prostate cancer. More on Male BC

Dx 03/14, IBC, Lgth. 2cm, Stge IIIB, Gde 2B, ER+/PR+, HER2- ; FEC x3, Taxol x3; Mx & 2/23 nodes; Rads x 33; now on tamoxofin.

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Nov 4, 2019 05:48PM evelyn7 wrote:

Hi Traveltext and Wildplaces

Thanks for your replies

I was alerted to you by Wildplaces, and found both your responses practical as ones who have journeyed a bit further along the way to me. I am still in the early days, 6 months following diagnosis, and, having come through surgery and radiotherapy, fairly well, am finding this next phase on anastrazole particularly challenging, like many BC patients. I have similarly found Liz O'Riordan's blogs and writings very helpful, and will now look into Kelly Shanahan.

We invest a lot in being in control as doctors, so when this diagnosis happens and you start this roller coaster ride, it can rock you to the core. I am slowly learning to be more pro-active and to identify what I need to feel less anxious about learning to live with this disease.

Our colleagues take comfort in good prognoses and statistics, but journeying with this disease is far more complex and involves our heart and soul as well. Some do it well, and others don't. It does make a difference seeing it from the other side.

The late Prof Umberto Veronesi said, "It is not possible to take care of people's bodies without taking care of the mind. My duty, the duty of all doctors, is to listen and be part of the emotions of those we treat everyday."

And yes, I agree, if you can see some humour, even black humour, through this all, it does help a lot!

Dx 5/8/2019, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy Radiation Therapy Surgery
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Nov 4, 2019 07:24PM - edited Nov 4, 2019 07:25PM by Traveltext

evelyn7 So, no chemo, that's lucky; caught early, that's good; ER/HR+, HER2-, best outcomes.

Here's some articles I've written:



You're right, this is a complex disease, and recovery is a bit of a long road, but with the good support and treatment you've had to date, you've off to afine start.

NED breast and prostate cancer. More on Male BC

Dx 03/14, IBC, Lgth. 2cm, Stge IIIB, Gde 2B, ER+/PR+, HER2- ; FEC x3, Taxol x3; Mx & 2/23 nodes; Rads x 33; now on tamoxofin.

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Nov 4, 2019 07:50PM evelyn7 wrote:

Hi Traveltext

Just read your two well written and thought provoking articles- thanks for linking me up with them.

"Instead of a bucket list, I've opted for a life list. A list that records and celebrates achievements, but one that I can build on for my future. Although I can't ignore my medical condition, I can release myself from its vice-like grip so that fear doesn't dominate my life and make me sick again. We are stronger than we think and health and happiness are well within our reach."

I like your emphasis on a life list, vs a bucket list. So much of learning to live with this disease can be helped by framing things better. I have not liked the term "survivor" like many other people with BC, but haven't found another term that is better. The same applies to "journey", and I agree with you- it feels like a journey where we thought we were going to Bali and then ended up being diverted to Syria. With hot flushes, I have ended up alternating somewhere between Siberia and then the steamy jungles of the Congo!!

We didn't want to go on this journey, but we are also foolish to think that life is not going to throw us some curve balls at some stage- thanks for the encouragement to keep at working on not only recovery of the body, but of the mind and soul.

Dx 5/8/2019, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy Radiation Therapy Surgery

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