Most often the first question that patients ask when they contact me is whether or not they should get a second opinion. My answer is always the same. Your life or your quality of life is at stake here, so get as many opinions as you possibly can so you can be confident that you are making the right treatment choice for yourself!
Simply put, in order for you to decide what is the best treatment option for you, you need to know what all your treatment options are. The more informed you are, the better equipped you will be to choose the best path forward!
What You Should know about Medical Opinions
Remember, medical opinions are just “opinions”, and there is a reason that medical businesses are called “practices”. There are rarely situations in medicine where there is only one black and white “standard of care” solution. Professional opinions are extremely important but they are not necessarily facts written in stone. In the course of your research in becoming and expert, you will inevitably receive conflicting opinions. Only by studying all of the opinions you can possibly acquire, will you be able to make the most educated decisions.
Over a period of almost two years I met or communicated with literally hundreds of doctors, research scientists, pharmaceutical executives, and medical specialists at just about every major medical and cancer treatment center in the US and Europe, as well as several in Asia and Middle East. I do not have an exact count, but I probably received over 200 opinions before I finally found the one that led me to my cure. I also searched out every leading hematologist oncologist (blood cancer doctor) that I could find. Without exception I was told that I was 100 % terminal and that there was nothing that could be done. Some doctors diagnosed me with having a “mental adjustment disorder” because I refused to accept my terminal prognosis as fact, but I knew in my heart that there is always something that can be done. If I had taken these “opinions” as fact and gone home to die with hospice care, I would not be here today.
Obviously, they were wrong!
What these doctors were really saying is that they didn’t know what to do, but did they have to go so far as to take away all my hope, like many doctors do with so many patients? The best doctors I had would simply admit that as much as they wanted to help, they just didn’t have a solution for me and did not know what to do. They emphasized that miracles happen and new treatments emerge, and encouraged me to keep looking and fighting, and they promised to keep their eyes open for me.
Many of these medical professionals may have known about clinical trials in Europe that could possibly have saved me, but not one doctor in the US mentioned any treatments that they could not personally provide. Maybe they had not been allowed by their employers to discuss these other treatments with me, or maybe they just wanted to sell me what they had. Either way, I learned to not take any bad news as fact, and not to let anyone take away my optimism and hope.
Please understand that I am not doctor bashing. If it was not for the most caring and brilliant physicians and medical staff this world has to offer, I would not be alive. The point I am trying to make is that you as the patient or advocate must sort through the confusion of biased and conflicted opinions and get to the facts if you want to maximize your chances of success.
The main point of strategy here is to take full responsibility for your own life and full personal accountability for finding a solution. Commit yourself to either finding a cure or the very best possible solution for your diagnosis.
Please realize that medical professionals are also only human, and there are limits on our capacity as humans. One person cannot be expected to know all there is to know about every approach and treatment option available. Because of the advancements in so many different areas of medicine simultaneously, medical professionals have had to become more and more specialized and focused. Instead of having one doctor to address all your needs, now you need a different doctor to address each specific need. I will talk more about this in the section about hospital and treatment center strategy.
It is also important to understand that medical professionals are by definition in the “business” of medicine. They have certain services and treatments that they sell, and of course many others that they do not. Therefore the opinions you receive from many medical professionals are by definition biased and generally contain information only about the treatments they have available. Doctors who work at large hospitals or major medical centers are often told not to discuss treatments that they do not offer at that facility at that time. Therefore it is up to you to investigate as much as possible and get opinions form as many sources as possible.
I want to point out that this does not necessarily mean that you are getting bad information. You may get lucky and happen to see the very best doctor with the very best treatment possible for your condition. Your particular doctor may stay on top of all new technologies and will freely discuss all of your options whether or not they can offer these treatments or not. The only way you will know for sure is to verify everything you hear and do your own research. Trust but verify!