The first doctor gave her six months to live. The second and third said chemotherapy would buy more time, but surgery would not. A fourth offered to operate.Cancer Patients, Lost in a Maze of Uneven Care (New York Times, July 28, 2007)
Karen Pasqualetto had just given birth to her first child last July when doctors discovered she had colon cancer. She was only 35, and the disease had already spread to her liver. The months she had hoped to spend getting to know her new daughter were hijacked by illness, fear and a desperate quest to survive. For the past year, she and her relatives have felt lost, fending for themselves in a daunting medical landscape in which they struggle to make sense of conflicting advice as they race against time in hopes of saving her life.
“It’s patchwork, and frustrating that there’s not one person taking care of me who I can look to as my champion,” Ms. Pasqualetto said recently in a telephone interview from her home near Seattle. “I don’t feel I have a doctor who is looking out for my care. My oncologist is terrific, but he’s an oncologist. The surgeon seems terrific, but I found him through my own diligence. I have no confidence in the system.”
Sadly, "I have no confidence in the system" is a very well-informed, thoroughly educated position to take, especially when it comes to any condition where the treatment options are complex.
And the "one person taking care of you who you can look to as your champion" pretty much has to be you (with support from your loved ones, hopefully)... and that at a time when, to put it mildly, you aren't feeling very well.