Here’s a sobering statistic: Approximately one out of every eight women will get diagnosed with breast cancer in her life. In other words, nearly every family will have some experience with breast cancer whether it’s their mother, their aunt, or a friend. We also know how critical early diagnosis is and that advancements in diagnosing and treating breast cancer continue almost daily. But for many women, the most important thing to consider in their journey is who they choose as their doctor — and perhaps no one knows this better than Dr. Elisa Port, Chief of Breast Surgery and the Director of the Dubin Breast Cancer Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
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Dr. Port says that not only should your doctor be someone who can provide excellent care, but they should also be someone you can feel comfortable leaning on at perhaps one of the most vulnerable times in your life.
Dr. Port has been the doctor whom thousands of women have turned to in their time of need — but she didn’t always know she wanted to become a doctor. When she graduated college, she thought her path would be much different: “I’m thinking international banking, some kind of translational services, the C.I.A — someone would want me. In fact, no one wanted me for those skills per se. So I decided at some point that I wanted to rethink the idea of being a doctor, and I think it’s a great thing for people to hear because there are many people who come back to the idea of medicine.”
Since then, she’s learned to master the delicate balance of being an unbiased provider and a support system for women when they need a friend, not just a doctor. “The skill sets in the most effective surgeons are really mechanical, systematic, robotic, focused on their hands and their eyes. It’s almost like being in the heat of a championship game or something like that,” she says. “Equally as important, we walk into people’s lives at one of the most critical junctures. We know that they’re hanging on every word, and you measure your words carefully. After I’ve done my part, the goal is to get them back to their lives and the people who care about them and to fade into the background. And if I’ve done that, then I’ve done my job.”
Listen to hear the biggest myths that Dr. Port hears about breast cancer, what’s changed since she wrote her book: “The New Generation Breast Cancer Book: How to Navigate Your Diagnosis and Treatment Options and Remain Optimistic in an Age of Information Overload” in 2015, and why she’ll always be an eternal optimist.
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