MUSCs Reed a special doctor/teacher who merits special thanks
During the Thanksgiving week, it is traditional to count the blessings in our lives, beginning with our families and friends.
For the Medical University of South Carolina family, this Thanksgiving will be one in which we reflect upon the loss of one of our most respected and beloved faculty members, Dr. Carolyn Reed.
Dr. Reed’s brilliant career was cut short by cancer — a disease that she successfully cured in so many others.
Carolyn Reed was a native of Maine who graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and trained in cardiothoracic surgery at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. After specialty training in cancer surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, she joined the faculty of the Department of Surgery at the Medical University in 1985.
She quickly rose through the academic ranks and played leadership roles in the Hollings Cancer Center, including serving as its director for four years.
As a woman in a field that is dominated by men, Dr. Reed was a true pioneer who uniformly won the respect and admiration of her fellow chest surgeons. She was the first woman ever to be elected to the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, the accrediting body for chest surgeons, and also was the first woman to serve as its president. She served on the Council of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and she was the treasurer of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
She was an inspiration to the next generation of women in surgery, and she reached out to help many of them advance in their careers.
While Dr. Reed made valuable contributions to research, education and administration, it was in the operating room where she was a true master of her craft. She treated the most challenging cases of lung and esophageal cancer, and colleagues from across the state and beyond referred patients to her.
She was a leading advocate and early adopter of a team approach to care for patients with complicated malignancies, making sure that her patients had access to all of the necessary specialists.
What is most difficult to convey is the devotion that Dr. Reed’s patients had for her. She treated each and every one with compassion, spending far more time with them outside of the operating room than within it.
She had an infectious smile and laugh that could put even the most anxious patient at ease. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of people who are alive today because of her complete dedication to their physical and emotional well-being.
So, on this Thanksgiving, as we pause to reflect on what really matters in life, it is timely to remember the best examples we have known. We honor the life and work Dr. Reed with the words of Albert Pine:
“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Dr. Ray Greenberg is president of the Medical University of South Carolina.