Your doctor matters: the importance of a smart, compassionate oncologist

webmdTwo weeks after my cancer diagnosis, I walked into the office of the woman I consider my second mother: Dr. Elizabeth Tan-Chiu a petite, geeky, cheerful Chinese woman. Dr. T was the third oncologist I had interviewed. She was compassionate and unpretentious. She looked over my medical reports and talked in medical lingo with my husband. I was listening but internally I was praying and asking God to guide me. I was expanding my intuitive field and listening with my heart versus my ears.

She put the paper down and sat directly in front of me and said. “Aleyda, you have an aggressive cancer but fortunately I believe you are eligible for a clinical trial. And if that doesn’t work there are other beautiful drugs out there that can help you. You see, if we can clean your liver up, we can reverse it to stage 1 and go for a CURATIVE intent”.

My heart exploded she used the forbidden word: she said CURATIVE. I was so happy and said “Yes, I am in”. She had no idea what I was responding to. I hugged her and said “CURATIVE intent–you believe I can be cured!” She responded, “We can try. I will do the best I can as a doctor but the rest is in God’s hands. I have seen miracles happen. Pray Aleyda, Pray. God listens to prayer. Every night I fall asleep saying a rosary for my patients.” That is all I need to know and with joy in my heart I new I had found the woman that will walk with me the next year of my life.

Once you pick your oncologist, you’re sort of “married” to him or her.

I knew I needed to pick someone that I could share my life with. Literally. Since I’ve got no scientific background, I felt that I needed to be guided by God and feel a spiritual connection with my physician. So, I did do research on the best doctors in my area with the credentials specific to my disease, and I basically interviewed. I wasn’t listening with my mind; I was feeling with my heart. As the various doctors rattled off treatment plans, I was listening for hope, faith, optimism, a heart connection and egolessness–this is hard to find in the medical community. However, it helped that I had these criteria on my mind. The first doctor told me I had two years to live. The second doctor told me, “I’m going to make you very, very sick, but we can fight this disease.”

The third doctor said, “I’m going to do everything I can. There is a 60-70 percent chance; the rest is in God’s hands. I will pray, but you need to pray even more.” I married her.

My advice is to listen to your God-given intuition. There are excellent doctors that really want to see you healthy. Each individual has a personality that you will have to get used to throughout this disease. For me, I needed a gentle, spiritual and compassionate woman. I needed someone that could talk to me and not at me. However, she not only possesses these maternal qualities, but she also happened to be a top researcher who worked for the National Cancer Institute. You will have to find the right fit for you. It’s okay to pick the aggressive, driven, determined, powerful physician. It’s all based on your journey, the Divine’s guidance, and the lessons of your soul.


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