Dr. Meyers knew she wanted to become a physician the day her middle school class took a field trip to an area hospital. It became her calling.
She experienced many uphill battles, both at home (being raised in a strict single-parent household where nothing less than perfect was acceptable) and in the outside world (where women were expected to become nurses and assistants, not surgeons and oncologists.) But she graduated at the top of her class, did her residency back when internists worked ungodly hours, and found herself immersed in the career she had dreamed about since her early teens.
Intellectually, she was on par with the best in her field. Her enthusiasm and drive were unmatched. But, the world of medicine was woefully behind many other fields in regards to women’s equality. She asked a doctor at her very well-known institution why he didn’t refer patients to her and he said, “If you want anybody to take you seriously, you should straighten that hair. Nobody wants to be cared for by a woman doctor with curly hair.”
Dr. Meyers overcame the obstacles in her life and built a thriving practice as an oncologist, focusing primarily on breast cancer patients. In her personal life, she found love and raised a family. She was able to balance both facets of life, and in return, life was relatively smooth and uncomplicated.
But after nearly four decades of practicing, and with a grown daughter and an aging husband, she finds herself in an unexpected quandary – and it’s weighing heavily on her heart and soul. As the world of medicine has become even more business focused, she is struggling to see more and more patients, and many times, cannot care for them in the manner she wants; she’s urged on by her employer to generate more billing, and at the same time, she’s hampered by the onerous amounts of paperwork and red tape she must deal with on a daily basis. Contrasting the cold, narrowing focus of her work, though, at 62, she’s gained a widened perspective on life; she’s enjoyed a long marriage; she’s seen her daughter grow up; she’s travelled the world; and she’s gained wisdom and insight into the human experience.
Dr. Meyers needs to run the “business” of her practice, but she is constantly weighed down by the vast array of emotions felt by someone who now has a better understanding of what some of her patients will miss out on in life. She’s been blessed with good fortune and love and age, and almost on a daily basis, she encounters people who haven’t been so blessed.
And in nearly forty years of practice, she hasn’t dealt with or talked about or even vented about things like how difficult it is to go from one patient room where she just told some unfortunate young wife and mother that she won’t survive, to the next patient room where she can tell another more fortunate one that it’s okay to be optimistic about their prognosis.
Dr. Meyers cares about her patients. She really cares. And it’s becoming harder and harder to handle it all as well as when she wasn’t so wise to the human experience. As Dr. Meyers open ups and shares her story, she is examining the emotions and feelings that have been kept inside of her for a very long time. What’s she’s discovering about herself and the dynamics of fighting cancer in today’s world is helping her better understand life and the world she lives in each day when puts on her lab coat and prepares to talk to her patients.
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