With Gratitude and Thanksgiving | Wellness Task Force
Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. And while it is traditionally a time of giving thanks, many of us will be on call. Some of us will miss family dinner and holiday traditions, and undoubtedly all of us at some point in our career, have felt guilt over gratitude on Thanksgiving (or any) Day, as we ask our loved ones to sacrifice for the career we have chosen. Here’s the thing that is easy to forget – our loved ones are proud of us and the work we do.
In this special Thanksgiving edition of the SGO Wellness blog, we hear from a daughter and two husbands of SGO members about life with a gynecologic oncologist in the family. We share these with you in gratitude this holiday season, in recognition of your dedication and in appreciation for you and your families. On behalf of the SGO Wellness Task Force, thank you for all that you do. The following are presented with the permission of both the author and the SGO member.
Is there a ‘good’ time to start a family as a gynecologic oncologist? Melissa A. Geller, MD, MS
I thought I never wanted children. I was determined to be a great gynecologic oncologist, and thought children would get in my way. I was 36, advanced maternal age, when I decided it was the “right time” to have children. My initial pregnancy ended in miscarriage, but later that year I delivered a healthy baby girl. Holding that baby for the first time was the best gift I have ever received.
No Man is an Island | Kathleen Essel, MD
Over the past year, I have had the distinct pleasure of attending three separate lectures on burnout. At the first lecture, I listened and tried to pay attention to the speaker, acutely aware of my own sleepiness and desire to be elsewhere. During the second lecture, I at least pretended to pay attention in an attempt to show that I wasn’t just there for the free fancy dinner. It wasn’t until the third lecture that I started to pay attention: The risk factors that predominate and are independently associated with burnout in almost every study ever conducted are younger age, long work hours and being female [Ann Surg 2009; 250: 463-71; J Am Coll Surg 2016;223:440]. As I sat listening to these numbers, it finally dawned on me: that’s me.
Saving the oncologist one step at a time: My wellness strategy | Nathalie McKenzie, MD, MSPH
I am a 14-year cancer survivor, the daughter of a cancer survivor and a mid-career gynecologic oncologist. I am therefore ever conscious of the fragility of human life. Yet, I have no fear. With grounded confidence all of us can adapt and persevere.
Having More Empathy | Jolyn Taylor, MD, MPH
I woke up early, rounded and then reviewed the other inpatients I was responsible for that weekend. Made my “To Do” list and started checking off boxes. Made a new list, made new boxes, made new checkmarks. This was the start of my first call as a clinical fellow on a busy service. I felt the pressure. I couldn’t miss anything, I had to do a good job. I had warned my family that I would see them in a week when my call ended.
Wellness: If you feel like you’re going to the dogs | Lyn Filip, RN, BSN, OCN
There are days when I prefer to hang out with my dog. Dogs don’t just fill your heart; they make it stronger. Studies show that having a canine companion is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health. Herbie, our basset hound, is just that. If I have a bad day, I come home and look at that face, stare into those eyes and I can’t help but feel my heart full of love. It is magic. I decided to take things one step further.
Saying Goodbye to a Patient | Larry Puls, MD
I stand at the door—afraid. Take a deep breath. Just another room; one I have been in a thousand times before. Inside a bed, a bathroom, an IV pole, a friend. And while I stand there, my angst grows over the unrevealed information. Still frozen in the hallway, I cannot reach out and touch the door handle. You have to go in.
How much is too much? | Linda R. Duska, MD, MPH
I have a habit of over-committing at work. I thrive on new opportunities, love learning new things, and appreciate being asked to lead or contribute. And like many of us, I was raised in an environment in which hard work and over-extension were most valued. I have always wanted to be that person who agrees to add another patient to an already over-full clinic, performs the most surgeries, enrolls the most patients onto clinical trials. Competitive much?
The Courage to Leave | Stephen L. Rose, MD
It was 4:00 p.m. My cases had finished early on a Monday and I was trying to catch up on the roughly 100 emails that had come in that day. I was still tired from a busy weekend of call, and it made focusing on anything difficult. As I read the same sentence six times over, I felt the sun on my back through my window. It was a beautiful spring day in Madison. There was no rain or wind and I knew there were still many hours of daylight. On a whim, I texted my friend Brian, who works in marketing at a local appliance company.
Things aren’t going to get ‘better’ | Nathalie Dauphin McKenzie, MD, MSPH
Are you waiting for the “right” time to start a new wellness regime? What IS the right time? Consider that things aren’t going to get “better” any time soon. Instead, accept that the time is now! I agree that we are all busy–trust me–I get it! In between writing this blog, I will edit some publications, review some clinical trial protocols, fill out a 100-page application pertaining to the fellowship of which I am the director; plan my children’s numerous extracurricular activities, surgical cases, clinic, manage chemo patients, and a plethora of the administrative and personal things that we all have to do—so I get it!