After my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, I held up pretty good (for her sake) during the round of visits to the radiologist, chemotherapist, and other specialists I can’t remember or pronounce. It all seemed like a bizarre and impersonal sales pitch, though.
I felt like we were being ushered through the cattle gate, so my wife could take her turn at getting zapped by the best x-rays and drugs modern medicine has to offer. (To be fair, she felt comfortable, but I wasn’t happy at all.)
We needed a surgeon. Given the first few assessments, I was pretty sure this Higgins guy (he was recommended to us as “The best breast cancer surgeon in Bend”) would be just as detached and full of himself as (I had surmised) the others were.
The appointment with Dr. Higgins was still a couple of days out, so I got on the internet and started searching: “Bend breast surgery, Bend Oregon surgeon, Central Oregon breast cancer doctor, Central Oregon breast cancer surgeon, Bend surgeon…” every term I could think of that would lead us to someone who would take time to see my wife as a person in need of medical care instead of as another “breast cancer case” to be shoved through the patient pipe before quitting time.
Dr. Higgins kept showing up in my online searches and in conversations with others who had already crossed the deplorable bridge called breast cancer. So we kept the appointment, but I had a list of other local surgeons in my pocket.
My Thank You Note to Dr. Higgins — He IS the Best Breast Cancer Surgeon in Bend!
Dr. Higgins didn’t rush into the room and start feeling the lump in my wife’s breast. He sat down across from us and said, “Hi, I’m Andy. What questions do you have?”
I wanted to know how quickly this “Best in Bend” surgeon could get my wife on the operating table and cut the hateful, offensive lump out of there. He smiled and said he would need to examine her first and get a breast biopsy, but would ask his staff to get her on the schedule right away for either a lumpectomy or mastectomy, if surgery was indicated.
He turned to my wife, “What do you want to know, Heather?”
I was afraid, and Doc knew that. She was fearless and straightforward: “I want to know about breast cancer treatment alternatives. I’ve heard that changes in diet can help. Is that true?”
I groaned. If I had to carry her to the operating room and hold her down for surgery, I was ready to do it.
Surely Dr. Higgins would agree with me… after all, don’t surgeons get paid for surgery, not for diet counseling?
A Surgeon Who Takes His Time and Isn’t Afraid to be Human
He didn’t flinch, though. He told us what he knew about breast cancer treatments other than surgery. He set forth the facts as best he understood them and invited us to draw our own conclusions.
No pressure. No ridicule. No rushing to get us in and out so he could assess the next “breast cancer case” in line.
Dr. Higgins listened to our concerns and responded to them with genuine compassion and concern.
I told him about our previous visits to cancer doctors and asked why he was different.
“I know,” he said, “that I could be sitting in your chair.”
Thank You, Dr. Higgins: The Breast Cancer Journey Continues
I’ll stop here for now. My wife is still trying an alternative, holistic approach to breast cancer (coupled with plenty of prayer). She wants to avoid breast cancer surgery, and I’m doing my best to support her decisions.
I will say this, though: If you have need of breast cancer surgery, hernia surgery, gall bladder surgery, colon surgery, intestinal surgery, or just want to talk with a general surgeon who will see you as a person and give you the time you need to make an informed decision, go see Andy Higgins.
He IS the best surgeon in Bend, in Oregon, and maybe the best cancer surgeon on the planet 🙂 Take a look at his “Thank you for taking care of me” (Gratitudes) page. I’m not the only one who has found Dr. Andrew Higgins to be everything a doctor ought to be.
Most importantly, he isn’t afraid to let you know he’s a human being who is doing his best to take care of other human beings. When you enter an examination room at Dr. Higgins surgery practice, it’s not his room you’re sitting in… it’s yours.
The breast surgery is over now, and Heather is recovering nicely. Dr. Higgins took his time in the operating room and focused on the work before him. We couldn’t be happier with the result.
After the surgery, he came to speak with us in recovery and answered all our questions. We never, ever felt he was in a hurry to get to the next patient. When Doc Higgins is with you, it’s apparent he is listening and he cares.
Thank you, Dr. Higgins.
Your commitment to those fortunate enough to choose you as their surgeon is phenomenal. I wish every doctor cared as much as you.