Why I’ve devoted my career to cancer prevention

If you had told me years ago that one day all I’d be doing was preventive medicine — and it would all be related to cancer — I’d have said you were crazy. I am not an oncologist. My board certification is in family medicine. Still, when I was offered the position of medical director at MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center in 1996, I accepted. It was such a new field then that I appreciated the challenge. But I thought I’d stay only four or five years. And here I still am, nearly 25 years later. How I got into preventive medicine I always knew I wanted to work in health care. My maternal grandmother had hip surgery when I was 10, and I helped nurse her. I’d go get her medications, then take them in to her on a tray. I also changed her bandages and helped her get around. She needed a lot of care. It was because of that experience that I thought I wanted to become a nurse. So, when I went off to college, my major was nursing. But I rapidly learned that nursing wasn’t my strength. Thankfully, a good advisor steered me toward medical school. I found my niche in family medicine. Once I entered private practice, I didn’t think I would like doing well-woman exams at first. But then I realized that my interactions with patients during those visits tended to be much calmer and more productive than the ones I had with them when they were sick or injured. And I could really do some things to help people,...

Why I’ve devoted my career to cancer prevention

If you had told me years ago that one day all I’d be doing was preventive medicine — and it would all be related to cancer — I’d have said you were crazy. I am not an oncologist. My board certification is in family medicine. Still, when I was offered the position of medical director at MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center in 1996, I accepted. It was such a new field then that I appreciated the challenge. But I thought I’d stay only four or five years. And here I still am, nearly 25 years later. How I got into preventive medicine I always knew I wanted to work in health care. My maternal grandmother had hip surgery when I was 10, and I helped nurse her. I’d go get her medications, then take them in to her on a tray. I also changed her bandages and helped her get around. She needed a lot of care. It was because of that experience that I thought I wanted to become a nurse. So, when I went off to college, my major was nursing. But I rapidly learned that nursing wasn’t my strength. Thankfully, a good advisor steered me toward medical school. I found my niche in family medicine. Once I entered private practice, I didn’t think I would like doing well-woman exams at first. But then I realized that my interactions with patients during those visits tended to be much calmer and more productive than the ones I had with them when they were sick or injured. And I could really do some things to help people,...