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Have you seen Dr. Teresa Helsten?
February 24th, 2016Protect your family and find another physician
Doctor Halsten is motivated by money, not a desire to help her patients. Allow me to explain. Over the course of the past five years my wife has been with the same Oncologist at Kaiser Permanente. Throughout the course of her treatment, her Oncologist was a little more cautious about treatment than we had hoped, but he was extremely responsive and involved in my wife's treatment plan. Over the last few years my wife sought a second opinion in order to develop a more aggressive treatment plan for her breast cancer. This led us to Doctor Helsten. After consulting with her and paying out of pocket to UCSD, my wife and I decided that the options presented to us by Doctor Helsten, which included the potential for clinical trials with new treatments at UCSD and genomic testing, were worth changing insurance companies, oncologists, and primary care providers for. We made the switch to Blue Cross Blue Shield and tried to schedule an appointment. Whereas Doctor Helsten was readily available for consultation when we were paying out of pocket, as soona as we switched insurance companies, we were no longer a priority for her time. Three weeks. My wife had to wait three weeks for a consult. Three weeks without treatment of any kind. And so, the cancer progressed, as it does when it is ignored. The day before my wife's appointment, she ended up in the ER because she could not walk. A member of Doctor Helsten's oncology team consulted with my wife and recommended radiation. Then the ortho team recommended surgery to support the femur and hip which contained cancer. That actually alleviated a lot of pain. Thank you ortho team. After the surgery, still no appearance or call from Doctor Helsten. UCSD put my wife in Cottonwood "care facility" and because I work out of state, I was unable to intervene until after she was removed from the hospital. This action had no bearing on her directly until my wife ended up in the ER because she was anemic from excessive radiation and no nutrition at the care facility (think overmedication). At that point, the oncology team told her she was "no longer a candidate for chemotherapy or radiation" and essentially left her in our capable hands. Still no visit from Doctor Helsten. We went home and ended up in the ER two days later because my wife was not receiving all the hydration she needed. We did our best in between her naps, but it was not quite enough to keep her functioning. The ER physician, who had never before even heard of my wife, gave us support via outpatient IV fluids for a week. That was all we needed, but it made a huge difference. The ER told us to contact our oncologist, which I did. After 24 hours I received a callback from Doctor Helsten's administrative assistant stating that because she had never seen my wife in person, she did not feel that she was qualified to recommend IV fluidsâ¦ plain hydrationâ¦ and that we needed to seek assistance from palliative care. How can an oncologist who had time for my wife before and knew of her case issues say she is not qualified to recommend fluids for my wife, while and ER doctor who has never met us can be kind enough to help us until we can get support from what is supposed to be our team? While our previous oncologist may not have been the most aggressive, he was extremely supportive, caring, and compassionate- always available by phone or email, and his office understood that when a cancer patient "urgently" requires a consult, they are not exaggerating in any way, shape or form. The lack of compassion and care demonstrated by Doctor Helsten should serve as a warning to all potential patients. Look out for your loved ones and consider other physiciansâ¦ individuals who care about treating the person, not just the disease. Find someone who respects the whole human being and understands that they are supposed to be helping someone's son, daughter, husband, or wife, not washing their hands of them when they need support and treatment the most.
October 16th, 2009Changed my life
Dr Helsten was a second opinion after an initial adjuvant therapy plan for my cancer was put together at another institution. Her expertise and deep probe into the subtleties of my diagnosis and pathology led me down a completely different path of treatment, including participation in a clinical trial in chemotherapy and targeted therapy, and some surgery and radiation decisions that had huge positive impacts on my quality of life. She always spent lengthy, unrushed amounts of time with me and was very empathetic toward my husband's and my concerns about parenthood and incorporated those into my care plan. Her support staff is also superb, from her admin asst to her nurse practitioner. Can't say enough wonderful things about her; she literally changed my, and my husband's and children's, lives.
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