I am a big fan of change. Well, what I mean is that when change happens I usually adapt pretty quickly and deal. But a change is afoot and I’m finding it hard to accept. My oncologist is leaving the breast center.
I’ve never revealed his name before, but I figure I can now for two reasons: he will no longer be my physician and perhaps someone will find this post when they embark on their own physician-oriented research. His name is George Raptis (MD, MBA). I first met Dr. Raptis in September; I wanted a second opinion since I was not pleased with the environment of the oncology suite in the hospital that shall not be named. I researched a lot of physicians and his name floated to the top. I had high expectations and was not disappointed. So impressed was I with the breast center writ large and with his thoroughness and professionalism, that I expressed my desire to switch at the close of his consultation. He told me then that he would be leaving Mount Sinai in the coming months. It was not common knowledge and he asked for my discretion, but he wanted me to know. His decision to share that information with me was ethical and responsible and warmly appreciated.
In the end, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Physicians come and go all of the time–after all, they have careers to manage. I was so happy to have found a place that offered truly comprehensive and coordinated care. I was disappointed, but I didn’t know that the next few weeks would be intense and that I would need to rely on Dr. Raptis in a way that I could never have anticipated.
After finding out I had Stage IV breast cancer, I was pretty vulnerable. I wanted to be cared for. Oh, not like a little kid, of course; I wanted someone to empathize with me and work toward finding a solution that would help me. Someone with whom I could work to manage this disease. A partner. Dr. Raptis turned out to be that partner.
Dr. Raptis was always kind, responsive, and thorough. He never once questioned or dismissed my concerns. When I called and told him that my back pain was so intense that I could no longer walk without the aid of a cane, he saw me on a day in which he normally didn’t see patients. That sense of responsibility to me as a patient was appreciated on a level that I can’t quite describe. I was scared and I was hurting: he acknowledged both and worked to find answers and to help me. He was kind and gentle and, frankly, gave a damn. A rare combination. In addition he was methodical and not reactionary. And it was all for the best.
It is not the end of the world, of course. I am sure I will continue to receive good care and help as I manage this disease (and will make it known if I don’t), but I will miss the sincerity, kindness, and professionalism I received at the hands of Dr. Raptis. Some folks go into medicine to make money, quite frankly. I’ve met many physicians like that over the years. But there are those who pursue medicine to truly help people while they nourish the careers that enable them to lead good lives too.
Thanks for your help, Dr. Raptis. And I hope you have nothing but good things in your future!