Why is this so hard? ‘Negative’ gene markers

This week has been spent trying to set an appointment for my surgery. I was told that was the next step after my MRI and genetics test results came back. Since I was still waiting on the genetic test results when Monday dawned, I wasn’t pushing so hard to get in touch with Dr. B’s scheduler, Kim, who just came back from vacation

Still, I called her number on Monday, meaning to get ahead of everything but got her voicemail. I didn’t leave a message but I called again 2 or so more times, and got the voicemail, still with the vacation greeting. I chalked it up to Mondays being a busy day generally and even more so for someone just back from vacation.

Tuesday morning came and I called Kim again, getting the same vacation message that included the names and phone numbers of two people that were meant to help during her absence. Again, I didn’t leave a message. After all, I was still awaiting my genetics test results.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, the genetics counselor called with my results and promised to forward them to Dr. B, who had originally encouraged me to get them to aide in my decision making on whether to get the suggested lumpectomy or a bilateral mastectomy. According to the results, I do not have any of 9 markers they say puts one at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers (sigh).

The gene test for cancer risk is considered ‘negative’ but the hereditary component is not completely ruled out.

With renewed determination, I called Kim, this time leaving her a voicemail message.

I was certain I would hear back from her at least within 24 hours… that’s what I consider to be a professional allotted time. I never heard from her on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, I called her number again, and got the same greeting…”out of the office until– please reach –“. Angry, I called one of the numbers she left as points of contact when she was on vacation. This person answered on the second ring and I dove right into my complaints about Kim not being professional enough to call anyone back or even answer her phone during business hours. The lady apologized, gave a lame excuse about Kim just being back from vacation and needing to catch up with “stuff on her desk”, took my name, DOB and phone number and promised to give my message to Kim, whom she had “just” seen.

When I didn’t hear from Kim all day Thursday, i resolved to take my complaints higher. I know people can be overwhelmed but I should at least expect a call back after leaving two messages. Am I being unreasonable?

I know that if I had a different type of health insurance, I would have found another medical team to work with just because of Kim’s incompetence. It wouldn’t have mattered that I have confidence in the medical team that came together for me. This team practices in the largest and one of the top notch cancer centers in Virginia. People travel from all parts of Virginia and neighboring states to come here and my research into them has uncovered good things.

It’s Friday morning and I am headed out to take my kids to school but when I come back, I’ll be calling Kim’s supervisor or the supervisor’s supervisor because this is uncool. Setting up a surgery appointment for lumpectomy/mastectomy shouldn’t be this hard.

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