Sometimes Oncologists Suck 

By Nupur Kudapkar 

Oncology is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A cancer expert who is sworn in to believe patients regardless of how well they appear, to address their worries, and to keep their patients healthy and safe. High rates of depression, burnout, and suicide correspond with this profession as well as low job satisfaction rates. A 2019 survey by Medscape on physician burnout, depression, and suicide showed that approximately 39% of oncology physicians report high levels of burnout. Oncology is divided into two disciplines for physicians: ‘medical’ oncology and ‘clinical’ oncology. Medical oncology is concerned with cancer pharmacological therapies such as chemotherapy, hormones, and biological agents. Clinical oncology entails administering pharmacological therapies as well as radiation, which is frequently used in tandem. Curative, adjuvant, or palliative treatments are all possible. Oncologists have a strong desire to influence the course of the illness for cancer patients; to cure when feasible, to extend and improve the quality of life left, and to give efficient palliation of symptoms where a cure is not possible. So in conclusion, oncologists become oncologists because they want to help the lives of cancer patients. Although most oncologists do not have ill intent, a profession that overwhelms you can lead to you ignoring your patients because they appear ‘fine’. 

My Dad’s Story, Pundalik Kudapkar:

“In December of 2011, when I was diagnosed with Cancer (Extraosseous Osteosarcoma), it was an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer, with very few and uncertain treatment choices; and a very poor prognosis. My primary tumor was on my lower back; about 6+ cms in size. One of the oncologists from my care team told me that medical science doesn’t know a lot about this cancer, and there was a high probability that, secondary tumors might start showing up in my lung and intestine in the next few months; and in that case, it might turn into a terminal disease. Due to all such reasons, I was prescribed one of the most aggressive chemo regimens, consisting of High-Dose Methotrexate, Doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and Cisplatin. It was also one of the worst chemo regimens known to mankind for its side effects — as per my oncologist. On top of this, I was the single earner in my family. My daughter was 6 years old and my son was merely 10 months old. The future was completely dark. But there was a silver lining. No matter how bad the current situation is, there always exists a silver lining, if you try a bit harder to look for it. My silver lining was that: the tumor was not attached to any vital organ and in spite of being so aggressive in nature, my body was able to confine the cancer locally, even at the size of 6+ cms. That means, something in my body succeeded in preventing the metastasis. So, I made this as my mantra: Defeating Cancer a day at a time by focusing on harmonious living. Ever since then, every day — including the bad days — I would indulge my mind in focusing on all the good people and things I have in my life, influencing the daily outcome of my battle in a positive manner. I made this my habit and celebrated it every day of my life. As a matter of fact, this same habit helped me in getting my life back on track, after I was officially declared cancer-free in October of 2012. Cancer could have completely destroyed my body; but I knew that irrespective of the ultimate outcome, I would be the winner. And this strong belief in myself, my care team, my family, and my friends made all the difference throughout my battle.”

My father’s cancer, however, could have been treated much earlier if only the doctors had listened.  He’d gone before following the discovery of a lump in his back is health was deteriorating, and he didn’t have time to worry about it with work. The physicians disregarded him since he was thirty, had just had a kid, life was good, and he was healthy. There had been no previous cancer-related difficulties in the family history, so it was probably nothing, right? As we all know, it was nothing, and it was almost too late by the time they discovered it; he almost died from an illness that might have been prevented and treated a long time ago if only someone had listened. Now, I’m not saying that all oncologists are bad, but I’ve seen it happen in my own life and in others when physicians don’t listen, it’s too late, and a person dies or is in critical care for years. By all accounts, my dad was a very fortunate man, but others have not been. If you suspect that anything is wrong with you, follow your instincts and urge the physicians for treatment or answers; if they refuse, go elsewhere since your life and the lives of your loved ones are not worth losing over a misdiagnosis or just being ignored.