What I Do: Doctor is focused on helping women
Published: 4/9/2009

I've focused my career in medicine on gynecological cancers that occur in female reproductive organs.

During my second year of medical school at the University of Missouri, Columbia, I was captivated by my obstetrics/gynecology rotation, which included delivering babies and learning about reproductive health. I decided that was to be my career path.

I graduated from medical school in 1988 and completed my residency at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, in 1992. I completed my gynecologic oncology fellowship at the University of Minnesota in 1995 and am board certified in both obstetrics/gynecology and gynecologic oncology.

I moved to Madison in 1995 when I was recruited for a faculty position at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, where I teach medical students, fellows and residents.

In addition to seeing patients one or two days per week, I conduct clinical research trials to help improve the survival statistics of gynecological cancers. I help to enroll patients in clinical research trials being conducted throughout the country.

I like having the ability to help control or cure cancer when women are facing life-threatening cancers such as ovarian, uterine or cervical. If I can't cure the cancer, I can connect the patient with state-of-the-art care at the Paul Carbone cancer center (Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center).

I am energized by the spirit of the women that I work with as they travel on their cancer journey. It's difficult when I have to give people bad news and hard to accept that I can't save everyone.

September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month. Statistics from the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation show that a significant percentage of women diagnosed with these cancers are diagnosed in the advanced stages of their diseases, when five-year survival rates are far lower.

This year, an estimated 26,000 women in the United States are expected to lose their lives to some form of gynecologic cancer. Women need to pay attention to their bodies and be aware of any changes. Let your doctor know of these changes and make sure to have an annual pap smear.

If I had a dime for every time someone said "I thought something was wrong but I didn't do anything about it," when indeed they did have cancer, I'd be very rich.