My Monday morning belongs to “Tumor Board.” In this weekly meeting, gynecologic oncologists, radiation experts, radiologists, pathologists, nurse managers, fellows and residents join forces to develop treatment blueprints for our cancer patients. Crowded into an old conference room, our collective mission is to tackle the challenge: “What can we do for our patients?” Pathologists scrutinize slides of tumor under the microscope. Radiologists show images to elucidate the extent of cancer invasion. Researchers critique the merits of the latest clinical trials. Radiation experts evaluate the opportunity for radiotherapy. A senior clinician summarizes the action points, and the fellow meticulously documents the discussion in the chart. Then, the residents get their marching orders to execute the strategy. We are a fiercely technical and data-driven army, churning out evidence-based recommendations for 20+ patients in under 2 hours.
Last week, I flew to Milwaukee to witness the long-awaited birth of my niece. I’m happy to report that mother and baby are doing just fine…and this OB/GYN aunt – who knows too much about the birthing process for her own good – survived the experience as well. I have never been one to mix the personal and the professional. In fact, I compartmentalize to cope with the stresses of my work. But in this case, it was impossible to avoid being both a sister and a doctor.