The Portland author had been pulling sixty-hour weeks at the office for ten years, hunched over a keyboard, stacking thousands upon thousands of sentences. “You know, you get your MFA in Creative Writing, then you have to intern with a publisher to get your name out there, then send hundreds of queries to agents and publishers, and then, even if you find a publisher, you still have to do all your own book promotion,” Frost says, sipping an Americano at a Burnside cafe. “And that doesn’t even count the grueling hours spent under the lamps, actually writing. The stress is unbearable. Meanwhile, you have to teach for a living or moonlight as a bartender just to make ends meet. It’s no way to live.”
Frost says he woke up one day and said to himself, “You know what, I want the easy life.” Oncology seemed like the perfect career.
“I mean, I just imagined myself relaxing by the pool with my scrip pad and a cocktail,” he says. “How hard could it be? A guy has an itch somewhere—there just aren’t that many different treatments. You make a phone call to the pharmacy, and then tilt yourself back in your lounge chair.”
With the advent of eOncology, the field has really opened up, and Frost is ready to take advantage. “With writing, it was four years of college, then two years of graduate school, and even once you graduate, you sit in your critique group with people questioning your every move,” he says “No one questions an oncologist; no one double-checks your prescriptions. You can just toss up a website and self-promote your practice. Plus, with Amazon’s new tools for oncologists, the prescriptions pretty much write themselves.”
Amazon’s new platform for self-practitioners has made it even easier to navigate patient care.
“Amazon has really leveled the playing field,” Frost says. “The cost of oncology treatments used to be pretty established, but now a smart oncologist can get more business by setting prices as low as .99 cents per consult. You can get thousands of new clients that way, and no one has to know you don’t have an M.D. It’s a win-win for oncologists and patients alike.”
Once the patients get hooked and the real doctors are put out of business, Frost says he’ll slowly jack up the prices until he’s made enough money to buy a second home in Brooklyn and a third on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Frost says he feels an optimism and a buoyancy he hasn’t felt in years.
“With writing, the hours it took to call yourself an author and sell your books were impossible to justify,” he says. “As an oncologist, it’s more a mentality. You just need to wake up in the morning, look yourself in the mirror, and say to your reflection, ‘I’m an oncologist’ and then you are. There’s a freedom in oncology you just don’t have in other professions.”
Frost isn’t worried that he doesn’t have enough experience. “That’s the thing about being an oncologist. You just have to believe you’re one, and you are. As a writer, things were stressful. If you wrote something bad, you could destroy someone’s life. Literacy is already on the decline, and all the purple prose out there just perpetuates that. But you can be the worst oncologist in the world and it really doesn’t cause any harm.”
So what words of wisdom does Frost have to impart about his new profession? “Just believe in yourself. Oh, and spend more time on Facebook. Because every friend is a potential new client!”
After an award-winning career as a writer, including the novel World Leader Pretend, the travel guide The Artichoke Trail, and articles, essays, and fiction in places as diverse as Wired, the San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, The Official Magazine of World of Warcraft, The Nervous Breakdown, Trachodon, and the Farallon Review, James Bernard Frost is now seeing oncology patients at his home in Portland, Oregon. His latest novel, A Very Minor Prophet, published by Hawthorne Books, appears in bookstores today. Despite his new time constraints, he’s confident that the HMO will bring him readers without having to do his own publicity.
Special thanks to James Bernard Frost for this ‘article.’ If you have any questions, check your calendar.