Oncologist transition?

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ginabeewell
Posts: 452
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:30 am

Oncologist transition?

Postby ginabeewell » Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:34 pm

I got a call today from one of the nurses at Northwestern.

She let me know that my oncologist was sick - and going onto indefinite medical leave - and given that she is going to specialize in breast cancer treatment moving forward anyway, they want to transition me to a new oncologist.

Their recommendation is Dr Mulcahey, who runs the GI cancer department there and is supposed to be very good. However, when I first started to look for an oncologist, I steered away from her in part because a bunch of her online reviews seemed to suggest that while Stage 1-3 patients loved her, Stage 4 patients were not as happy with her care.

Which is a little concerning, except for a few things:
1) Dr Kemeny at MSK is really running the show - the nurse assured me that Dr M would be a "team player" who would be willing to work with her closely.
2) Dr Stein was never a colon cancer specialist, something that didn't matter when I started treatment, but I am sensing is becoming more important as I move through stages of treatment
3) Part of me is hoping that I have a reputation as a good/popular patient at NW and that might ensure Dr M doesn't see me as just another hopeless Stage 4 patient. The nurse who called (whom I trust) said Dr M is "truly the best," and I have a feeling they pushed to ensure I would get restacked with her.
4) They are going to allow me to keep doing treatment with my current nursing team at Arkes rather than pushing me to Galter

I am telling myself that I already fired one oncologist who wasn't a right fit. So maybe I try this doctor and can always make another call if need be?

(I hope Dr Stein doesn't have Covid. She's been treating cancer patients on a Covid floor, so I'm worried that might be it.)
45 YO mom of twins (9) and lucky stepmom of 14/17 year olds
9/17/18 DX stage 4 CRC w inoperable liver mets CEA 931
10/18 FOLFOX + Vectibix
12/18 typhlitis (7 days in hospital) but largest met down to 5 cm.
12/18 CEA 4.6
1/18 Resume chemo (#6-8)
3/19 HAI pump placement / colon resection
4/19 Resume chemo (#9-19) FOLFOX (no OX) + Vectibix
5/19 CEA 1.3
7/19 liver resection
10/19 liver resection
1/20 NED! CEA 0.6
3/20 two new liver mets; FOLFIRI (5) and then add Vectibix (5)
8/20 CEA 0.7
Resection next?

cartech78
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:22 pm

Re: Oncologist transition?

Postby cartech78 » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:49 pm

Hi Gina! I spoke with Dr.M on the phone once when I considered switching to Northwestern for my pump flushes. While she was very nice on the phone with me I have heard she is not the kindest Dr out there from some of her other patients on other groups. Equally, I have seen other patients who loved her as well. I know my local oncologist where I did my systemic chemo in Libertyville was not a fan of her which is why I stayed with Dr.Polite at U of Chicago for pump flushes. At the end of the day I have heard the same and even experienced some not so great appts with Dr.K as well from time to time. You could always try her out and if it’s not a fit switch again or look at U of Chicago again. Dr. Polite does work with Dr.Kemenys team very well. Sorry to hear about the recurrence! Best of luck moving forward!
40 Y/o male
Dx 10/5/18 stage lV CRC
Sg colon
23 inoperable liver mets largest 4.5 cm
Colon resection 10/6/18 clean margins
Starting FolFox on 11/18
2nd opinion at MSK on 12/18
HAI pump installed on 3/6/2019 also found 20 more small tumors on liver scans missed
7/2/2019 MRI and CT show only 2 liver tumors visible and they are shrunk by 3/4
11/25/19- Liver resection at MSK- got out all cancer and am NED. More scans and mop up chemo to follow.
1 month Scan clear! Jun/20 scans still clear. Off chemo since 3/20

User avatar
ginabeewell
Posts: 452
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:30 am

Re: Oncologist transition?

Postby ginabeewell » Sun Sep 06, 2020 5:13 pm

cartech78 wrote:Hi Gina! I spoke with Dr.M on the phone once when I considered switching to Northwestern for my pump flushes. While she was very nice on the phone with me I have heard she is not the kindest Dr out there from some of her other patients on other groups. Equally, I have seen other patients who loved her as well. I know my local oncologist where I did my systemic chemo in Libertyville was not a fan of her which is why I stayed with Dr.Polite at U of Chicago for pump flushes. At the end of the day I have heard the same and even experienced some not so great appts with Dr.K as well from time to time. You could always try her out and if it’s not a fit switch again or look at U of Chicago again. Dr. Polite does work with Dr.Kemenys team very well. Sorry to hear about the recurrence! Best of luck moving forward!


Thanks for your feedback, that's really helpful.

I knew you had good luck with Dr Polite - and we had a good first meeting with him too - so that's not off the table completely. However, all things being equal (and feels like they should be if Dr K is calling the shots!) i think i would prefer to stay at Northwestern. I know the whole nursing team, more convenient, etc.

You were done with treatment by the time Covid hit, right? I'm curious about how she's been able to maintain other remote patients; I have definitely felt a change since i'm not seeing Dr K in person. It's like they haven't quite figured out how to make the remote thing work.

I don't need a terribly warm and fuzzy bedside manner - i want someone who is skilled and who will save my life - but i appreciated that Dr Stein would take the time to meet with me and explain things. Maybe more than that - I got the sense that she was vested in me. Which none of the other docs with whom I met seemed to want to be at first meeting (maybe a sign of how bad my prognosis was!). I think i will meet Dr M and get started and see how it goes.
45 YO mom of twins (9) and lucky stepmom of 14/17 year olds
9/17/18 DX stage 4 CRC w inoperable liver mets CEA 931
10/18 FOLFOX + Vectibix
12/18 typhlitis (7 days in hospital) but largest met down to 5 cm.
12/18 CEA 4.6
1/18 Resume chemo (#6-8)
3/19 HAI pump placement / colon resection
4/19 Resume chemo (#9-19) FOLFOX (no OX) + Vectibix
5/19 CEA 1.3
7/19 liver resection
10/19 liver resection
1/20 NED! CEA 0.6
3/20 two new liver mets; FOLFIRI (5) and then add Vectibix (5)
8/20 CEA 0.7
Resection next?

cartech78
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:22 pm

Re: Oncologist transition?

Postby cartech78 » Sun Sep 06, 2020 8:32 pm

Hey Gina. My last chemo was the first week of March so I was done right as things locked down. That’s also the last time I’ve been to NewYork. Can’t say I miss it much :P . I had scans done locally at Condell hospital on June 28th and mailed them myself to Dr.K. I’m supposed To head back for more on Oct 7th but I think I will switch them to locally again so I can mitigate some risk. I think your plan to meet her is a good move. As long as she knows who the boss is and accepts it. The stories I have heard of her seem awfully close to how Dr.k seems to me and she’s not for everybody either. Keep us updated how it goes. I might still one day switch to Northwestern if they ever start doing pump flushes to their Lake forest location.
40 Y/o male
Dx 10/5/18 stage lV CRC
Sg colon
23 inoperable liver mets largest 4.5 cm
Colon resection 10/6/18 clean margins
Starting FolFox on 11/18
2nd opinion at MSK on 12/18
HAI pump installed on 3/6/2019 also found 20 more small tumors on liver scans missed
7/2/2019 MRI and CT show only 2 liver tumors visible and they are shrunk by 3/4
11/25/19- Liver resection at MSK- got out all cancer and am NED. More scans and mop up chemo to follow.
1 month Scan clear! Jun/20 scans still clear. Off chemo since 3/20


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