When you have a passion, eventually it becomes illogical not to take that leap.
In 2008, at the height of the recession, it seemed illogical to launch a new business. But we believed passionately in our mission and opened a new practice anyway. Within three months of opening the doors at Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists—the first and only center in the world solely focused on treating women with breast cancer—we were in the black.
While still in the planning phase of the business, when we talked to other people about the concept, many thought it would be a mistake not to serve as many cancers (thereby as many patients) as possible. But, with our passion guiding us, we found the response so great that we had to open three centers our first year in business.
What’s our secret for success? Besides the obvious desire and need patients had for a center such as ours, we brought a passion for our mission, talent, medical expertise, and humility. There is no greater talent to master than that of staying humble. It keeps you authentic. Bring who you are at home—wife, mom, housekeeper, cook, or friend—to the office.
On Getting People to Know Who You Are and What You Can Do
Stand out by standing up—for what, and for whom, you believe in. If something isn’t out there, don’t be afraid to create it yourself. Case in point, I founded Arizona Institute for Breast Health (AIBH)—the first and only organization of its kind in the country.
• I sought out a volunteer medical board that shared my passion for empowering women from all walks of life by educating them, and naturally developed professional relationships that serve me to this day.
• I worked with survivors to serve as volunteers on our fundraising, advocacy, and event committees, and naturally developed my skills in communicating with women who were in the process of fighting cancer, as well as those in remission.
• I created a platform based on my passion, and naturally developed relationships with community leaders and the media as a go-to resource for breast cancer information and important breakthroughs.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
There are three key things I do to succeed and stay competitive:
1. Continue to see patients—those with amazing outcomes and those without. All you need is to see the faces and talk to the people living with this disease to push forward.
2. Empathy—I put myself in the patient’s shoes. How would I feel? What would I need? That always drives me to be better, do better, and seek out something better for them.
3. Take time away—burnout is common to both men and women in medicine. Sometimes the best medicine for medical professionals is a dose of fresh air and a fresh perspective.
On Facing Challenges
When I moved to Arizona in 1993, only 20 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer were being treated with breast conservation. This means that 80 percent of all breast cancer patients were treated with mastectomy—a sometimes necessary, but disfiguring treatment that can take years to overcome.
By 1998, technology was growing by leaps and bounds, but breast conservation numbers were not. Motivated to advocate for women in this state, I cofounded the Arizona Institute for Breast Health (AIBH), which gives women the opportunity to receive information and education about the best possible treatment for their specific breast cancer completely free of charge.