Dr. Lisa Jervis is The After Cancer's Programs' Medical Director.
Phase 1: Medical School
As a first year medical student, I had no idea what specific path I wanted to follow with regards to my career—but I knew it would not be Obstetrics and Gynecology…or would it? Welcome third year of med school and clinical rotations. It was here that I discovered that I enjoyed at least some aspect of every rotation I did. I loved the challenge, mystery and excitement of surgery; the intellectual thought processes of internal medicine; the emotions, communication and intricacies of human brain function in psychiatry, and the wide variation and oftentimes fun aspects of pediatrics. When I got to my OB/GYN rotation, I found a little bit of everything mentioned above, and then (by the way)…there is this amazing process of human gestation and being an integral part of the sacred and emotional life event and miracle of birth.
Life as an OB/GYN
My years as an OB/GYN were extremely rewarding on many levels and oftentimes exhausting. Over those years, I learned that one of my strengths in my life and practice is my ability to listen, communicate and share knowledge. I found that I was always running behind in my schedule, because I felt compelled to listen to what my patients were saying not only verbally, but also silently as they would convey in other ways that something else was going on and needed to be addressed. The current culture and model of conventional medical care does not allow for that style of medicine which I knew was right for me and my patients.
Phase 2: Integrative Medicine
Chronically running behind in a busy office setting creates its own source of stress and dissatisfaction both with practitioners and with patients. While I loved taking care of my patients and engaging in the practice of medicine, something was missing for me. As I became more and more aware of this realization, I also began reading and hearing more about the concepts of integrative medicine. Patients would ask about these “other” mysterious options that sounded fascinating to me: Healthy (plant based) nutrition, herbs, supplements, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, etc. Many of these concepts were things that I am naturally drawn to, but many were new and intriguing to my curious mind. After some research and contemplation, I found some courage and took the plunge for a shift in gears and direction in my career. I applied for the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine Fellowship/University of Arizona. As I started my Fellowship, I was offered a position at Novant Health Cancer Institute to help establish a new department of integrative medicine.
Integrative Oncology Support
The transition from conventional OB/Gyn to Integrative Oncology Support was a complex whirlwind of learning new concepts, re-learning old concepts from an integrative perspective, exploring new ways to open my mind and heart, and sharing happiness, pain, suffering and everything in between while connecting with others in a way that felt very comfortable to me. I learned as much or more about life and healing from my patients as I did from any class, book or journal. There is a massive amount of research, facts, information and resources out there, but putting it all together and learning to meet patients “where they are”, is what hits home and matters most.
The Here and Now
As I now have the opportunity to combine my remote and more recent experiences of practicing medicine together, I cherish and am grateful to be able to help fulfill the need of providing support and knowledge to (patients) at any point in their journey of cancer diagnosis and life.
I have been hoping to create and provide a group support series for several years. The positive energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and experience of The After Cancer team is the perfect environment and opportunity to create this program. We are in this together, and we all have something to contribute to help each other find peace, happiness, comfort and healing.