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And you thought your doctor was insensitive?

Hissy_Fitz's picture
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sep 2009

The story below, copied and pasted from my local newspaper's online site, made my blood boil. Not only is her "bedside manner" the worst I have ever heard of, but this physician is horribly, and perhaps dangerously arrogant, as well. I seriously don't see that conversation ever taking place....
"Thanks, doc. I appreciate your honesty, and I will definitely follow up on your suicide suggestion." Really? NO..........no, no, no.

I am seriously thinking of writing an OP/ED piece in response.

Here's the story, word-for-word. It ran in this morning's Ft Worth Star Telegram, if you want to Google it.

Also disciplined this month was Dr. Mary Milam, the Fort Worth oncologist who treated District Attorney Tim Curry's terminal cancer.

Milam was accused of telling a patient who had not responded to chemotherapy that "if it were me, I would get a bottle, a gun and go into the woods."

Milam said in an interview that she had used those words but that she had added "... and contemplate my options."

According to the board, Milam "admitted that it was insensitive" and said that it was not her practice to say such things to her cancer patients and that "she has never made such statement before or since."

However, Milam told the Star-Telegram: "I've told that same thing to other patients. And they've appreciated my honesty. [Because] what I was telling him was, 'This is bad.'"

Milam, who has practiced medicine for nearly 31 years, said she believes that the patient's family was simply angry that she delivered bad news. "To have one comment taken out of context ... really ticks me off. I didn't neglect the guy. They're taking their frustration out on me."

Milam was fined $1,000 and agreed to complete continuing education in patient-physician communication and risk management.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/04/26/2144139/tarrant-doctors-reprimanded-by.html#tvg#ixzz0mJcGNptU

msfanciful's picture
Posts: 581
Joined: Nov 2009

You've GOT to be kidding me!!!!

It absolutely pains me to think in her 31years of practicing, how many of her patients went home to lay down and die after hearing her horrible prognosis.

Wonders will never cease to amaze me.

Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2017

I've been seeing Dr. Milam for about 12 years, and she is one of the best oncologists anywhere.  It's amazing how quickly people judge others and how easily we excuse our own faults.  One of the things I love about Dr. Milam is that she is honest with her patients.  She tells it like it is.  She will also do everything she can to help them.  It is commonly known at her office that, if a patient is willing to fight, she will try every possible treatment and will continue to help them no matter what.  This statement is such an anomaly for her.  It is not typical of the doctor she is, and it breaks my heart that that is all some people have heard.  I feel quite certain that we have not gotten the whole story, and that the comment was doubtless taken out of context.  I also know that she herself would not condone such a comment.  But, don't we all say things at times that we later regret?  Things we would never think we would say?


Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

OMG I am sooooo glad she doesn't practice at my hospital. She needs "Striking off" not fined $1,000.

JanQ's picture
Posts: 238
Joined: Jan 2004

She does not need to be practicing medicine. How insensitive.


upsofloating's picture
Posts: 473
Joined: Dec 2009

Perhaps it's this Doc who can't handle bad news - if patient doesn't respond to 'her treatment', she projects the problem onto the patient. Some doctors just don't think creatively -- and yet have very big egos.

Posts: 122
Joined: Feb 2010

I can't imagine how awful her patients must have felt after she talked to them. The fine is a joke. They should take her license


Lisa 00
Posts: 134
Joined: Jul 2009

Wow. That doc is not fit to treat cancer patients.

I had trouble with my oncologist who gave me the chemo. I ultimately decided that she was a prima donna who was on a power trip. She wouldn't condescend to explain ANYTHING to me. I also think she was a lesbian who was hitting on me from a position of power. I told friends that it felt like being sexually harassed by my doc. I could write and write about that woman.

My comment is that a friend brought up an interesting point about this doc. She said, "who are the most vulnerable patients in medicine?" Of course, it's cancer patients who are receiving chemo. Then we got to talking about what kind of doctor is drawn to working with the most vulnerable? Unfortunately, I think, that it is sometimes the weakest and most maladjusted in medicine that get into oncology and doling out chemotherapy. Frankly, the victimizers.

Don't get me wrong. Most oncologists get into their biz for the right reasons. But there are always the dregs.

To this day I still consider writing the head of her group practice and tell him about her.

bluerose's picture
Posts: 1102
Joined: Jul 2009

UNFREAKINBELIEVABLE !!!!!!!!! I have no words for how angry I became when I read that posting about what that insensitive, poor excuse for a doctor said to that patient. Sometimes I am just so proud of my human race NOT. Breathe, breathe, breathe.

There is of course merit to being straight with a patient about the seriousness of their situation but to take away all hope and with such insensitivity is just criminal. How about discussing options of possible upcoming clinical triats or hospice help, positive information that will help instead of discourage the patient totally. I just can't believe it. There is so much that can be said by a physician to make even the sickest of patients feel cared for, oh I just can't believe it.

Speaking for myself I would have gone right out and gotten another oncologist who had a shred of compassion. Please do us all a favour and write that Op Ed piece.

Take care.


Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

Cancer is a tough business. I was diagnosed with leukemia in 1999. My family practice physician set up an appointment with Dr. Milam within a week of his suspicion of my cancer.

Dr. Milam didn't coddle me and admittedly her bedside manner wasn't teddy bears and lolly pops. Personally, I didn't care what her bedside manner was like. I wanted a doctor who was genuinely brilliant, who would put the required effort into knowing as much as there was to know about my cancer and not (pardon the expression) blow sunshine up my patootie.

She was straight with me and didn't pull any punches. She told me what my treatment was going to be like and what I was going to have to do to see the other side of said treatment.

At the time, I was 43 years old. I had a son in middle school, and a daughter in high school. My goal, at the time, was to live to see them graduate from high school. Both kids have long since graduated from high school, and from college. They are both married and I am playing with my grandchildren on a nearly daily basis.

I visit my oncologist twice a year now for a routine blood test. He has nothing to say regarding my leukemia because it isn't there. He says that if he didn't have a lab workup on a lymph node (removed per Dr. Milam's order) he would believe that I was faking. He tells me that my total remission and the lenght it has lasted, and continues to last is due in part to my own attitude and Dr. Milam's treatment which was years ahead of its time. The treatment I received is standard now, but because she was willing to take the time to learm what there was to know about my disease, she was able to construct a treatment plan for me that saved my life.

If you want to be coddled, by all means find yourself a kind caring doctor who may or may not know beans or be willing to invest the long hours necessary to learn enough about your cancer to formulate a cutting edge treatment plan for you. If you want a doctor who puts her energy into what it is going to take to treat you as successfully as possible, then Dr. Milam is that doctor. If you need sunshine blown up your patootie, let your family do it for you.

If you have cancer you need to roll up your sleeves, adjust your attitude, and get down to the business of fighting. If you feel like you need sunshine and teddybears, get them where you can. What you really need, however, is a brilliant physician and that is precisely what Mary Milam is.

One has to wonder how many people, in the years since you wrote your rant, chose a less brilliant doctor who has failed, or is failing them based on your petty, feel good, comments. When my life was on the line, I chose brilliance over sensitivity. My, children and my grandchildren are glad that I made the right choice.

debrajo's picture
Posts: 1095
Joined: Sep 2011

There is a big difference between being coddled, being straight-talked to, and being down right hateful! I read where Dr. Mengale was a very nice man....but I sure wouldn't want to be "treated" by him! debrajo

Posts: 150
Joined: Oct 2010

I have thought of it - more than once...

We really don't the particulars - the patient - the oncologist - their relationship -


Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

If Mengale was brilliant and likely to provide the best possible treatment plan for me, then I could accept his treatment.

Like her or not, Dr. Milam is a brilliant oncologist and when it is time to start treatment, that is what you need more than a "nice" doctor.

The problem with posts like the above is that someone might not go to Dr. Milam as a result and in doing so, receive less than the best possible treatment plan. People die because they choose the wrong doctor.

debrajo's picture
Posts: 1095
Joined: Sep 2011

...and sadly, some people wouldn't go to the brightest dr. in the world if they are going to be treated badly as a human being!

Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

I guess critical thinking isn't everyone's "best thing". Die rather than take a chance of having your feelings hurt? What sort of thinking is that?

leesag's picture
Posts: 625
Joined: Jan 2010

Megele was a MONSTER who performed unconscionable experiments on concentration camp victims of Nazi Germany. Seriously? You can have a doctor who is caring AND brilliant. Personally, I wouldn't trust a doctor who told me to contemplate ending my life as far as I could throw them.

Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2017

Thank you!!  I also have benefitted from Dr. Milam's great medical knowledge.  It's hard for me to believe that so many commenters can say such unkind things about her, when they don't know her.  I think she is the best oncologist in Fort Worth.  I an so very thankful for her.  And her chemo nurses are second to none. 

NoTimeForCancer's picture
Posts: 1865
Joined: Mar 2013

amazed, please know this is an old thread - 2012? - and sadly, some of the ladies who have commented are no longer with us.  I can tell you I hated my radiologist and I know someone else who loved him.  Everyone has to be happy with their doctor in the end.  Hang in there.  

anicca's picture
Posts: 335
Joined: Dec 2010

Carlene, you are eloquent and have the standing to write that Op/Ed. I think you should do it.

As if "... and contemplate my options" makes it any better.

JoWin615's picture
Posts: 148
Joined: Feb 2011

I am a bit unclear as to why all of you are talking about this thread, when the incident happened 2 1/2 years ago. I get it that srb1956, who clearly just joined this board, somehow found this mention of her doctor, and felt she had to say something. I would say, however, that by now, the issue should be considered a dead one. Just my opinion!


Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2012

With the growth of the internet, this sort of thing happens every day. People blog, and comment on blogs about this and that and it seems that they rarely take the time to consider the possible consequences of their statements.

Doctors get blogged on every day and people read those blogs and perhaps make life and death decisions based on the opinions of strangers. There are those who have trouble with the decision making process and as a result turn to others right or wrong.

The original post in this thread, and some of the resulting comments are prime examples of the sort of casual talk that could very well result in someone making a terrible decision and paying a heavy price for it. The people who make casual comments in agreement go blithely on their way never considering that they may have had a hand in directing some unknown passerby away from a doctor that could help them.

I have to wonder if those who commented above would knowingly direct a sick friend or relative away from a brilliant doctor because of a conflict of personality. In this case, they knowingly disparaged a doctor over personality with no knowledge whatsoever of her medical qualifications. That sort of unthinking criticism in a public forum, especially one where people who are in the midst of making life and death decisions are likely to be reading borders on criminal negligence if you ask me; and even if you don't ask.

leesag's picture
Posts: 625
Joined: Jan 2010

I did, in fact, turn down a referral to a medical oncologist, because, although brilliant, he had treated my mother in law and told her she had two weeks left to live. She lived a very full and happy life for much much longer than that! I don't need that kind of negativity from my doctor. My team of oncologists is just as Brilliant (if not more so) and they are also kind, caring and compassionate. I credit them for healing both my body and my spirit.

BTW...please do look at my post about Mengele.


3c Survivor of OVCA and Brain Mets since January 2010~ complements of my stellar team of gyn onc, med onc, rad onc, neurosurgeon and the Primary Care doc who diagnosed my disease and cared enough to call me personally on a Sunday when I was having panic attacks.

debrajo's picture
Posts: 1095
Joined: Sep 2011

All the dr.'s take an oath...First do no harm. As far as I'm concerned, he violated that oath. If you can't say something positive, keep you mouth shut and go get another dr. to tell the patient the bad news. There are ways of being straight without being down right hateful. Truth, yes...brutality,no. Debrajo

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2015

Think long and hard about using this doctor.  I found out the cancer was Stage 4 instead of Stage 2.  She never told me.  Her excuse, "You never asked".  She has a scribe with her at every appointment so her every word is recorded.  I questioned why didn't she tell me.  "you didn't ask and I have a scribe in the room that takes every word said during appointments."  So instead of thinking you are getting better, you are getting worse.  When you realize that and ask them what to do they tell you to call Hospice.  WHAT??  This has happened to a lot of people.  STAY AWAY FROM THIS WOMAN!!  She is heartless.

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2015

You would have to know first hand what a great doctor she is - my husband was cured of stage 4 cancer because of her expertise. She is tops in her field and she works TIRELESSLY. She is plain spoken, and some people might not be able to handle that. The fact is, word on the street is - "if you want to live, go see Mary Milam." Personally, my first priority would be medical excellence for a physician, and I would seek solace and pretty words from family and friends.

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