A Tale of Two Oncologists for International Women’s Day

About a month ago I had follow up appointments and scans at Dana-Farber. It was totally uneventful (we like that) but I had an exchange with my oncologist that stuck with me, and since it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I’d write about it.

A bit of context first…

Last year, toward the end of my treatment for stage III breast cancer, I learned my oncologist Dr. Y was moving to Seattle to be closer to family. I was devastated, at this point we had built a rapport and considered her my rock during treatment. I congratulated her of course, and asked her how many of her patients does she need to tell; she said 900 (!!!) but not to worry, because my new oncologist Dr. P is wonderful and I will be in excellent hands. During the week of the 2016 election I had my first appointment with Dr. P. It was hard to avoid any commentary of political news, she and I were both in shock and exhausted by the lack of sleep with concern over the election outcome. But I left there feeling good, she was my people.

Now back to my recent appointment…

Dr. P and I were catching up and I mentioned that I recently sent a card to Dr. Y. It had been two years since my diagnosis, and I wanted to thank her. Dr. P smiled and said that’s wonderful, that she and Dr. Y still talk and see each other regularly at conferences. They always share a hotel room.

I looked up at her. Women who work and travel together have a close trusting relationship, personally and professionally. I consider the women I travel with as family away from home, the friendly faces that offer to get coffee, share Band-Aids for blisters and walk each other back safely to hotel rooms. It’s a sisterhood. Dr. Y didn’t have to refer one of her 900 patients to her friend and colleague, but she did. I realized in that one moment, I have two oncologists, not one.

So here’s to the tribes of women who have worked, traveled, lived, laughed, cried and taken care of each other.