Following Your Instincts

Date: April 5th, 2011

Time: 9:PM

Status: Listening to Each Other

Info:  When are two heads better than one? Often times in marriages we hear “the wife says this, and the husband says that”, and unfortunately we don’t hear “we said this” or “we agree on that.” Being a breast cancer survivor, well for now we’ll still call my bride a breast cancer patient because of the number of unknown doors we have not yet opened and the surprises that lie behind not yet identified nor understood.

When this whole journey started in January we were introduced to the first member of Bonnie’s “TEAM”. It really helped me to know, or hear the term TEAM as I felt like there would always be someone there to help us round third and head for home when the time came. Since we first met the group at Redwood Medical in Santa Rosa when mammograms and biopsies were the two starting pitchers on the lineup card the staff was very helpful answering our questions, directing us to what we could expect next and providing us with a number of surgeons to choose from.

When it comes to selecting our surgeon, a young and versatile graduate of Indiana University we felt we drafted well. As we were still choosing the members of the team we now needed to select our Oncologist. Our two options were one local here in Petaluma, and the other in Santa Rosa. At the time our decision to stay local seemed to make perfectly logical sense. Bonnie would receive her treatments locally and the nonsense which is Highway 101, with an anticipated date of construction completion still slated for 2014 made the selection process easy.

Then we opened the door. Before walking into his office I had this vision of Jack Klugman (The Odd Couple). I still have no idea why this image was present when I walked into his office but things changed immediately. What I liked (notice the past tense?) about this guy is he never took his eyes off my wife during our two consults with him. I may as well have been a lamp in the corner. He directed his entire attention to the patient and I completely understand his directness. However COMMA … it’s not always the doctor in the office but the staff in which he hires that can change the direction of where we are heading.

This afternoon while Bonnie was heading to Expansion Visit #2 down in Marin with Dr. Goodman she texted me to let me know the Oncologist office jacked things up again. I’m going to try my best to put a parallel here that we can all understand.

Pick out your favorite restaurant … got it? You and the family have walked in – and noticed the new members of the wait staff, none of which you recognize. You start wondering, but you’ve made the trip and it’s too late now to leave, so what the hell … let’s order. I order the prime rib, my wife orders the salmon salad, our oldest daughter ordered the lettuce wraps with Thai seasoning and the youngest went hog-wild and ordered the lobster bisque with a side salad. The new waitress, who seemed like she left an iron plugged in at home before her shift approaches the table and doesn’t notice there’s no cutlery on our table, or water, and forgets to mention any of the night’s specials. Rather than bore you with what we received when she finally did arrive I’ll just tell you this … two heads are definitely better than one. We left the restaurant, parched as hell, but happy to have left. Why pay for anything you never asked for, nor wanted, right?

After Bonnie’s text I called her to let her know I’ve placed a call into Dr. Norton’s office to have our surgeon call us at home after 5:PM tonight to discuss finding a new oncologist.  I could hear the relief in her voice just before we hung up with each other.  I’ll deal with the highway construction rather than having my wife all worked up internally before walking into his office for the next sixteen weeks of chemotherapy treatments.

So … the phone rang later this evening. One of the first members of Bonnie’s team was on the other end of the phone; our surgeon, Dr. Laura Norton. The two of them discussed the many issues relating what’s currently going on, what’s scheduled; lymph node dissection (4/13), and her upcoming genetic counseling tomorrow. Turns out the oncologist Dr. Norton recommends is in the very same building as her counseling session tomorrow and with any luck at all she’ll be able to get in and see him tomorrow. YES!!

For the ladies out there reading this who have not yet had to open the doors we’re going through – listen to your heart – follow your instincts and never, ever let anyone do something you’re not willing to do yourself. If it means driving an additional twenty-five miles – so be it. Big deal.

In the great scheme of things it’s the decisions we make that keep us going. I tell my students, at least those students who use the term “big picture” the following: “You can’t see the big picture if you’re in the frame, so step outside the box and take another look at things, you just might be surprised at what you see.”

So two heads are truly better than one as long as both heads continue to listen to each other.

Thank you Dr. Norton, and thank you Bonnie for listening to yourself!


Sorry for the rant.  It felt appropriate.


Keep her close you guys.





4 thoughts on “Following Your Instincts

  1. *small nod*

    One of the things I like when I read here is the fact that you have a choice.

    In Canada – we don’t.


    If you don’t have the money to go to the states for treatment – you take whatever yahoo happens to be available in your time of need.

    I’m glad you have the option of choice.

    Choices can be scary but not having any options can be frightening as well.

    *hugs you both*

    I wish you the best.


    • As do we M.L. – Bonnie and I truly appreciate your comments from our neighbor to the north. We honeymooned in Montreal and talk about our time there regularly. Thank you.

  2. I am so happy you both listened to your instincts…Bon talked to me about her concerns regarding the first doc. You do have a choice and you need to feel a comfort level with your Team members! Good luck today with the appointments…I hope all goes well 🙂

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