What is your title?
Associate Professor, University of Sydney, BSc (Med) MBBS FRACS MS
What training have you completed?
I completed my undergraduate medical training at the University of New South Wales in 2002. Following this, I undertook general surgical training at the Prince of Wales Hospital Network. My post fellowship training was extensive with three and a half years of training in breast surgery. As part of this, I spent one and a half years at the Prince of Wales Hospital and Royal Hospital for Women within the Breast Surgical Oncology Unit and was then based for two years at the Oncoplastic Breast Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
My first job was…
At my parents’ medical practice in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, assisting with Reception. It was my first exposure to patients’ needs.
To explain to people what I do I say…
Helping breast cancer patients navigate the best treatment pathways.
What is the hardest part about your job?
Having the conversations to assist people to face up to potentially life-changing surgery, and helping them understand their options at such a difficult time.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It is difficult to pinpoint one specific part of my job. I love both the surgical aspect of helping patients with oncology, but also the reconstruction side. The best moments are when I can tell patients they are now cancer free.
My biggest achievement so far…
Personally, having a lovely 5-year-old son which is incredibly rewarding. Professionally, being able to successfully coordinate a change in the role of future surgeons by helping shape the Masters’ program at the University of Sydney.
To unwind at the end of the day I…
I love to spend time with my young son – and I love playing tennis.
Can you describe the role you play in people’s cancer journey?
A positive role at the coalface of their treatment – we have to be able to explain their diagnosis, give them options and lead them towards healing.
Why did you choose this field of work?
When I was a registrar, I met a patient in the early stages of breast cancer. Initially it was confronting, but then I observed her overcome the challenges that were placed in front of her and I found this very rewarding as I saw her get ready to fight, and live on and not give up. That was the moment that I decided to choose this field of work.
Do you work in an interdisciplinary team, and how does this help or hinder your part in treatment?
Yes. The more opinions the better in helping each patient. The multidisciplinary team approach works well to give the patient the very best outcomes.
Can you tell us about a particular patient who has had an impact on you?
A young patient with breast cancer – she showed so much courage through her surgery, then chemo and radiation therapy. Throughout her whole journey she managed to keep her unique personality – she is now back to enjoying life and really living.