Dr. Kate Killoran's new approach.
Just over a year ago, I thought I was healthy. I am young. I exercise. I am not overweight, do not smoke, and eat a reasonably healthy diet. And yet, despite all that, exactly 18 months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
How could this happen? I certainly never expected it would happen to me. But it did. While I will always wish that cancer had never happened to me, since my diagnosis I have been able to look at my lifestyle, make some necessary changes, and reexamine my role as a physician.
First, cancer has changed the way I think about my own health. Since my diagnosis I have carefully considered my lifestyle and although it was mostly healthy, there were and still are things that I can do better. For instance, I feel lucky because I like to exercise and I like to cook. A nutritious diet and regular exercise are both big contributors to a healthy lifestyle. I thought my diet was healthy (with an occasional indulgence) but when I really looked at it, I realized I did not eat enough fruits and vegetables. I have since reduced the amount of meat I eat. I am not a vegetarian, but I have tried to make fruits and vegetables the focus of my diet with lean meat or fish as a complement to the vegetables.
For me, changing my diet was a relatively minor lifestyle change. The biggest change I had to make was reducing stress and anxiety. Being an OB/GYN is as challenging as it is rewarding — and it is also very stressful. I worked hard to become a doctor and then an OB/GYN, but I knew that I could not go back to the job I had before I was diagnosed. Making a real change meant walking away from years of school and training, not to mention a lucrative salary. But I needed to do it for my own health. And so I quit my job.
Today I am healthier and happier than I have been in several years. I remain passionate about women's health and healthcare. Nothing has educated me more than my own health crisis. My experience as a patient is now an integral part of my role as a physician.
I have joined Midcoast Medicine to provide holistic well woman care and gynecology with a focus on integrative and lifestyle medicine. I hope to share my experience with other cancer patients and survivors, but also with anyone who wants to take an active role in their own health and healthcare. If that sounds like you, I hope you will call my new office at Midcoast Medicine 236-2169 and make an appointment today.