Change and Some Thanks

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!

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13 Responses to Change and Some Thanks

  1. CinVT says:

    I will never forget the breast surgeon who met with me on her lunch break when she heard via the nurse in her office that I was “losing my shit” prior to my mastectomy. I wasn’t…I was just tormented trying to make decisions. Or so I thought until I sat with her and she looked me in the eye and I lost it.
    She sat with me for an hour. She held my hand when I went into surgery and chattered about her kids’ Halloween costumes until I anesthesia put me to sleep.
    I am a tough person. I don’t do tears, I don’t like appearing to be the “hysterical female”, and as a nurse I like to be the “good patient”. I will forever be grateful that there was a physician that let me be human when I needed it most, simply by being human herself.

    • Scorchy says:

      Beautiful tale. We’re all so different. I try to be Stoic–and am most of the time. The physician that takes the time to just relate to you as a fellow human being–not a power relationship–that is so special. I had a CT guided biopsy recently and the physician who did was so personable, kind, and protective I’ll never forget him. This is why people need to speak up and–if they can–find that doctor who will enter into a relationship of caring and support.

  2. Katie says:

    Goodness, you’ve had a lot of shift in terms of doctors. I had no idea people moved around so much. I’ve never really had to commit to one doctor for any length of time, but I guess it makes sense–it’s still a job after all. I’m sure everything will work out for the best!

  3. dglassme says:

    What a nice tribute to Dr. Raptis. Being Medical Oncologist is a rough road to hoe, it takes a special kind of person to look this devastating disease in the eyes every day and stay in it. I’d like to think there are many Dr. Raptis’ because they too are human and see how shattering the journey can be. No doubt some bad ones but, I’d like to think more good than bad. May good luck be with you as your journey with a new doc unfolds.

  4. notself says:

    I lost my oncologist to change as well. I felt adrift and alone. He had recommended another ocologyst who would actually start practicing in my small town but I had to wait a year because she took well deserved time off after her previous job. She is wonderful and I feel cared for and listened to just as I did with my previous onc.

    Best wishes, Scorchy, for a smooth and successful transition.

  5. The Accidental Amazon says:

    Sigh. This is a big deal, Scorchy. It’s a significant loss after you’ve already endured so much. But if Dr. R has anything to say about his successor, then you’ll continue to be in kind, caring hands. xoxo

  6. He sounds like a hard act to follow. How lucky to come across a doctor like that at such a scary and vulnerable time in your life.

  7. Knot Telling says:

    I’m sorry you’re losing such a good and well-liked doctor. Wish there were more like him!

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