Women newly diagnosed with breast cancer are faced with a myriad of decisions to make about their care. Treatment plans vary for each woman, depending greatly on stage, grade, type, pathology results, genetics, and more. A woman's oncologist will remain a part of their long-range treatment plan long after the initial surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy is over. On average, women consider 2-3 oncologists before determining with whom to embark on their breast cancer journey.
How should one go about finding the right oncology practice? We interviewed ten Lowcountry breast cancer patients to get their perspective and advice.
The overall results? Quite simply, all of the patients interviewed cited the following critical factors:
- word of mouth from existing or prior breast cancer patients,
- years of experience in the breast cancer specialty,
- extensive online homework and
- the consultation/office visit experience.
Newly diagnosed breast cancer patient, Katie shares her office visit first impression, "Dr. Ellison and his staff were compassionate and patient with all of my questions throughout my treatment. They were extremely encouraging not only with my treatment but with my decision to cold cap and save some of my hair."
Knowing what you are looking for in an oncology practice is important to contemplate before your scheduled visit. Do you want a provider with subspecialty breast cancer experience? A close location? Extensive clinical trial options? A warm and welcoming staff?
A recent Charleston Oncology patient, Christiann M., shares her newly diagnosed experience. "In February, amidst COVID-19, I was faced with a life-threatening diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. Needless to say, at 36 years old, as a wife and mother of a six-year-old, I was overwhelmed," Christiann recalls. "Dr. Saylors responded with urgency. With a consistently calm yet professional demeanor, she provided a comprehensive treatment plan, reassured me throughout the process, and helped me achieve unbelievable progress within a short time frame."
Often rapid access to an oncology appointment to establish and start a treatment plan is critical to achieving positive breast cancer treatment outcomes. Charleston Oncology is committed to providing newly diagnosed patients an appointment within 24-48 hours of their referral or call.
Another young, newly diagnosed breast cancer patient, Cait, shares how her thorough research led her to Charleston Oncology for treatment. "At 33 years old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband and I quickly began researching doctors in the area and had a team to help lead the way within a matter of days."
The women interviewed expressed a feeling of relief and hopefulness once their treatment plan was communicated and underway. "Not knowing what to expect and prepare for is stressful. Charleston Oncology's ability to quickly evaluate me, set tests needed in motion, and work closely with my surgeon made an overwhelming event in my life feel more manageable," explains Dian. "Once I started chemotherapy, the practice being close to where I live was nice. The nurses where amazing!"
Many women interviewed said that clear explanations of their care also diffused anxiety. Cait says, "Dr. Ellison took the time to explain my pathology reports and go over a treatment plan that he thought would be best for my scenario. That day, I left his office feeling much better than when I'd gone in, and have felt that way each visit since.
Having an extremely well-educated oncologist, yet is also able to explain things in a way that puts my mind at ease, is extremely important to me."
For more information or to schedule your rapid breast cancer appointment, call Charleston Oncology at 843-577-6769 to reach the Mount Pleasant, downtown Charleston, and West Ashley locations; call 843-572-9211 to reach the North Charleston and Summerville at Carnes Crossroads locations; or request an appointment at www.CharlestonOncology.com.