Let me start out by saying that this blog is intended to be a place for me to update you on the latest information out there about living well after a diagnosis of breast cancer, including interpretations of information in the lay press and other interesting information I come across that I feel it would be important to post. However, for this one entry, my first, I would like to give you some insight into my journey and why I am so passionate about this new role.
In retrospect, all of this does seem a little cliché. After all, I hit my 40's and all of a sudden here I am in a major career change. But to me, as I reflect on this change now, I see some parallels between the journey of a woman who is newly diagnosed with breast cancer and my own choice to chart a new course for my career.
Through 9 years of post-graduate training, I had a clear path. I knew where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do and what was expected of me. Though very physically and mentally challenging, I felt fortunate that I had a path. When I finally got my first real job at age 31, I was so excited to be doing exactly what I set out to do; treat breast cancer patients. It was very exciting and scary at the same time.
It remained that way for quite some time. However, over time, I began to understand the realities of practicing medicine in the US. The demands of seeing a large volume of patients and trying to deliver the standard of care to which I was accustomed began to be at odds with each other. I became increasingly frustrated. I began contemplating all sorts of crazy career ideas. My mother instilled in me the love of baking pies and at one point I was very close to closing up shop and opening a pie business. Then I realized, those 4 AM mornings were probably not for me.
About a year or so went by with me wondering how best to utilize my skills in a way that will challenge me but will also feel gratifying. I started noticing my patients’ frequent concerns regarding the scheduling, waiting and general inconvenience of traditional medical practices. They would often say, "I love seeing you but I hate waiting in the oncology office". Or, "I love seeing you but the parking here is so expensive, is there anything else we can do?”. I also would frequently get emails and calls from friends or family members about someone they knew who was newly diagnosed with breast cancer, asking if I would be willing to speak with them and give them some guidance.
Then, the light bulb went off. People want timely, accurate and personalized information when going through a medical crisis, like a diagnosis of breast cancer. Why can’t we take away all the barriers to providing this service in a traditional practice and get right to the heart of what’s needed, which happens to be what I love doing…educating and empowering patients and their loved ones to make their own best health decisions?
So here I am, taking a major leap of faith, about to embark on a very new venture and might I add, unchartered territory. I am learning new things on a daily basis and growing in a way that I couldn't have imagined in my previous career. While scary, at the same time I have this incredible sense of calm because I finally have control of my path.
And here's where we come back to the parallel. Though the change is admittedly quite different, we are both looking for the same thing; a sense of control and peace of mind that we are doing the right thing. My work as a breast cancer consultant aims to provide control and empowerment through education and compassion to women who are thrust into a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Here’s to both of us for finding our way!