Cancer Survival Insights: Choosing An Oncologist

Cancer Survival Insights: Choosing An Oncologist

Choosing an oncologist

 “Cancer Survival Insights” is a new series of articles featuring stories from cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers. Stories are shared to inspire, encourage and to impart insights and knowhow to help others in their cancer journey. In this second article in the series, Edmund shares about the importance of choosing an oncologist as part of the breast cancer journey undertaken by him and Karen, his wife and soul mate. The first article in this series can be found here.

My Wife has Cancer – A Life-Companion’s Journey

Journal Entry 2: The Cancer Treatment Journey – “Your Oncologist, your Doctor, Guide and Companion”

The Importance Of Making The Right Decision When Choosing An Oncologist

No cancer journey is undertaken alone. Apart from family and friends, there is another who would be an important companion in that journey, your oncologist.

Upon cancer diagnosis, the next important step is choosing an oncologist who will see your spouse and you through the journey. Note that the first oncologist you meet need not be the one. It makes sense to seek a second and third opinion on the treatment options before deciding on which doctor it would be.

In addition to the medical qualifications, experience and reputation of the oncologist, it is crucial that the doctor be someone your spouse and you trust and like. This is because she* will be more than a doctor, she would be the Guide providing reliable and accurate information on how to live with cancer as well as a Companion offering comfort during the difficult phases of treatment.

One challenge Karen and I faced when family and friends were told of her diagnosis was the amount of energy expanded to fend off the deluge of well-intentioned but ill-informed advice. These included denying the diagnosis, depending on faith for a cure, eating strange herbs and engaging in shoulder rotation exercises that would defeat the cancer. Many of those who offered the advice did so with some insistence, claiming they knew someone who knew someone who recovered upon taking the advice. Many go on to say “There’s no harm trying”, not realising the psychological toll their advice add to our anxiety about the cancer journey.

Karen and I were fortunate to have an oncologist we liked and trusted. Apart from being a highly regarded doctor in her field, she spoke with us kindly, gently and with warmth. Even when the test results and prognosis were poor, she guided us through the difficult moments and tailored a dynamic treatment plan that enabled us to live with as much vigour and meaning that the cancer allowed. Our oncologist and her team became our second family. I remember her words to us at our first consultation:

“My role is to enable both of you to live the life you want together as much as you can, including scuba diving, traveling, taking long walks and enjoying each other’s company. I give you my word I will do my best in doing that for both of you.”

Our Oncologist and her team kept her promise.

“The good physician treats the disease;

the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” William Osler

Undergoing cancer treatment is difficult enough without needing to deal with the well-intentioned advice of family, friends and acquaintances. When it comes to treatment, the only medical professional and expert qualified to provide advice and guidance is your oncologist. She is the one with knowledge of the latest research on cancer treatment and the network of medical professionals such as Radiation Oncologist, Pain Specialist, Dietician, Counsellors, etc. This is why it is important that your spouse and you decide on one whom you can trust and like.

* “she” is intended as a gender-neutral pronoun 


National Cancer Centre Singapore – Cancer Helpline

This is an anonymous and confidential service from the National Cancer Centre that provides up-to-date information and emotional and psychological support through telephone, email or face-to-face counselling. This service is provided free nationwide, and is manned by cancer-trained nurse counsellors who are able to speak with callers in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

Tel: 65 6225 5655

Email: [email protected]

From the editor:

Additional Resources For Breast Cancer Patients / Caregivers

Need Help In Choosing An Oncologist or Surgeon In Singapore With Expertise In Breast Cancer?

Here is a list of oncologists and surgeons in Singapore with expertise in breast cancer treatment that you can consider:




OncoCare Cancer Centre @ Orchard

He has special interest in treating multiple cancer types including lung cancer, breast cancer, cancers of stomach, colon, rectum, liver, prostate, kidney, testicular and the bladder, gynaecological cancers such as ovarian and uterine/cervical cancers; as well as lymphomas and chronic leukaemia’s/multiple myeloma.

Parkway Cancer Centre

Dr Khoo Kei Siong is a Deputy Medical Director and Senior Consultant, Medical Oncologist at Parkway Cancer Centre. His subspecialty interests are in breast cancer and gynaecological cancer.

Solis Breast Care & Surgery Centre

Dr Lee specialises in the surgical treatment of breast conditions and breast cancer.

Solis Breast Care and Surgery Centre

Dr Lee Wai Peng is a Senior Consultant and Breast Surgeon and she specialises in treating benign and malignant breast conditions.

Icon Cancer Centre Farrer Park

His specialty interests are breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, hematology, lung cancer and lymphomas, and liver cancers.

Icon Cancer Centre Farrer Park

She specializes in Cancer Chemotherapy and Clinical Pharmacology, Breast, Central Nervous System and Hepatic Metastases.

The Cancer Centre @ Paragon

He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of adult cancers with a special interest in breast cancers, lung cancers, and gastrointestinal cancers.

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This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.