I wanted to post a big congratulations to one of my oldest and best friends Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale on being named one of New York Magazine's Best Doctors, 2013 for Dermatology. This is a huge honor and so well-deserved.
If you live in NYC maybe you've seen Liz on "Taxi TV" or if you have insomnia you may have caught her endorsing Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty skincare line or maybe you saw her the other day on CBS This Morning sandwiched between Gayle, Norah, and Charlie Rose talking about the dangers of sun exposure or maybe you saw her here on the blog running Race For The Cure with me last year just 4 months after my surgery.
Anne-Marie Slaughter should have done her homework before she wrote her piece for The Atlantic because Liz is a woman who really does have it all and can probably teach us all the secret. She's a doctor, wife, mom of 3, dedicated sister, daughter, aunt, friend, clinical professor, Skin Cancer Foundation Vice President, elite soul-cycler, and kick-ass cookie maker just to name a few of her accolades. Our group of friends who grew-up together likes to joke that Liz was born with an extra gear...we have no idea where her energy comes from but she is unstoppable. She has unbridled enthusiasm and is a relentless optimist. She is one of the smartest and most accomplished people you will ever meet but she is also one of the kindest, most humble, and funniest as well.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Liz assumed the role of master ringleader and immediately stepped in to make sure I received the best care available. When I got the results from the needle biopsy the 1st call I made was to my brother, also a doctor (I didn't even tell my parents I had had a suspicious mammogram much less a biopsy becuase I thought it would be nothing and didn't want them to worry.) The second call, actually text message, was to Liz. She was on ski trip out West with her family. I wrote, "Can you talk?" In typical Liz fashion she replied within minutes and asked, "Did you get the results?" I said yes and that they weren't good. She said, "I just got off the chairlift and I'm skiing down to meet the kids. I'll call you in 15 minutes." And she did. Within a few hours she had spoken to her colleague Dr. Richard Shapiro, a top breast surgeon at NYU Cancer Institute, and made arrangements for me to see him the next day...all during her vacation in a different time zone. Unfortunately, the imaging center couldn't get my films and reports together as quickly as Liz could get me an appointment so I had to wait a few days.
Liz was also one of the clearest voices in helping me navigate my decision on whether to have a single or a double mastectomy. She knew I was very conflicted over the one vs. two debate and that I was too overwhelmed and not medically knowledgeable enough to understand the potential prognosis longterm. As I waited for my BRCA test results, Liz felt strongly that regardless of the outcome a bilateral mastectomy was the wisest choice. Liz may sometimes be over-the-top positive but she is medically pragmatic and responsible and her definitive recommendation was very much appreciated. I wanted and needed someone to guide me and Liz offered exactly that. One year later I can say with 100% certainty that I made the right choice and have never regretted it even for a minute.
I realize I am incredibly lucky to have a close friend who is a top doctor in a medical mecca like New York City but the take-away for those of you who don't have a Liz is to make sure you have someone who can advocate for you, who will keep asking your doctors questions on your behalf when you're not capable of thinking clearly for yourself, and who will insist on taking care of you so you don't have to even think of asking for help. All friends and family can and should do that for you...awards not withstanding.
So thank you Liz! I look forward to many more healthy and happy years of friendship.
You can follow Liz on twitter @dermdrhale