By Yukiko Nakayama, Puma Investment
On December 4, ULI Washington’s WLI holiday lunch event, 82 attendees got together for the holiday season to reflect on this year and hear stories from Dr. Rachel Brem. Dr. Brem is a leading breast cancer doctor in the country and the Director of the Breast Imaging and Intervention Center and the Vice Chairman of Radiology at the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associated. She received her medical degree from Columbia University. She raised three daughters including Alisa Brem Rosenberg, who introduced Dr. Brem. This was a very intimate discussion ranging from breast cancer awareness from the perspective of a medical doctor, to practical life advice from a working mother. At the fireside chat, Caroline Kenney, Urban Atlantic, asked Dr. Brem about her ‘pivot moments’ in life.
For Dr. Brem, one of her key pivotal moment was at the age of 12 when her mother disappeared for a month, and when she came back, she was never the quite same again. Later she learned that her mother had breast cancer. Dr. Brem did not want anyone else to go through what she had, so she decided to go to medical school. When she reflected on her life, she said “One word that I use to describe this entire journey is “Gratitude”.” She urges you to use pivotal moments to look around and see what you are passionate about. She also encourages people to find a way to make a difference. When she goes home, she feels like she has made a difference. From her experience of raising three daughters while pursuing her career, her advice was to let go of guilt, find the balance between work and motherhood, and look for kindness when you look for a partner. “Housework is over-rated. You don’t get credit for everything you do, so get help”.
An audience member asked about the logic behind the medical community letting a patient make her own decisions after diagnosis. She answered that there are pros and cons for every choice. The right decision for each patient is different. Everyone’s responses and beliefs are different. Doctors try not to impose their biases on their patients, but it is hard. She teaches trainees to listen to patients.
Dr. Brem is the Chief Medical Advisor of the BREM Foundation, which helps women find early curable breast cancer through educating women about their risk factors and screening options, providing access to diagnostic tests for uninsured women, and funding the only breast imaging training program in the country that requires community service. 75 percent of breast cancer patients do not have family history or any risk factors besides being a woman. Early detection is the critical key to defeating breast cancer. Over 95 percent of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer survive. If you would like to learn more about the Foundation, please go to http://www.bremfoundation.org/
For more engaging conversations, join us at the next ULI Washington WLI Event- Unleashing the Power of Board Diversity on January 11, 2018.