Since my cancer diagnosis was melanoma, a dermatologist was of course an important member of my healthcare team. The only problem? I didn’t particularly like my dermatologist.
My first dermatologist was a very qualified doctor, and I am sure many of his patients are very happy with the care they receive from him. He didn’t do anything wrong. He scheduled my skin checks for every three months. He gave me sound medical advice, and he was a pleasant person. However, radiation had left my skin badly burned, and it was not healing. My first dermatologist did not offer other options or strategies for dealing with the burns other than to tell me the burns will get a little better with time, but skin will probably never heal completely. After all the surgeries, radiation, and infusions I’d been through, I wasn’t ready to settle for this answer. But, I was unsure of what to do next.
One of my oncologists (who I still see regularly) was fantastic throughout my diagnosis and treatment. I don’t know what I would have done without her. Aside from being a skilled medical professional and surgeon, she was kind. I could tell she genuinely cared for me. I could email her at any time with any question no matter how small or silly, and she would always respond. At first, I was hesitant to tell her that I wanted to see a new dermatologist fearing that she would feel insulted or not want to refer me outside of the treatment center. Finally, I let her know how I was feeling. She asked me what I was looking for in a dermatologist. After I expalined, she immediately referred me to a new doctor.
My new dermatologist gave me a similar answer as my old one when I asked her about my burns the burns will get a little better with time, but the skin will probably never heal completely. But, then, she added, “I will do some research, and we can try some different options. Come back in a week.” When I came back the following week, she went over some different treatment options, prescription creams to try and steroid shots to schedule. Even though the creams didn’t help, the steroid actaully did shots did. One thing helped me even more than the steroid shots a dermatologist who listened and worked with me.
If you are ever unhappy with the care you receive, find a new doctor. You need to be willing to advocate for your own healthcare. It’s very important to build a healthcare team of doctors you trust and can speak with openly. Personalities and needs are different so not every doctor will be good for every patient and vice versa, and it’s your right as a patient to find the ones who work for you.