Colon & Rectal Surgery
Med School/Year Graduated: University of Maryland,1993
Years in Practice: 17 Years
How did you become interested in the colorectal specialty?
I was attracted to surgery because of the immediate effect I could have on a patient’s life. Colorectal surgery gave me more of an opportunity for longitudinal relationships with patients regarding their colorectal care, whether that be for cancer or benign conditions.
We’ve heard many conflicting reports about how often we should be screening for colorectal issues with colonoscopies, and at what age. Can you set the record straight?
This is a brief answer that requires more detail, but for average-risk patients, screening should start at age 50, or 45 for African-Americans. And then age 40 for people with a family history of colon cancer, or 10 years prior to the age of diagnosis of that family member. There are further guidelines for people with other conditions or syndromes.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
One of the most difficult aspects of my job is informing patients, especially young ones, of the devastating news of cancer. It is even more difficult when the cancer is advanced and there are limited surgical options.
Do you keep in touch with any of your patients? Is there a particularly touching or impactful story you could share with us?
There was a young woman in her 30s with two young children who had colon cancer. She had successful surgery and has gone on to have more children and live a productive life. Because of her disease, several of her siblings underwent screening, one of whom had colon cancer as well. I had the privilege of treating her sibling. The effect of one patient’s illness can have a tremendous effect on their family and friends.
How often do people make terrible jokes about your specialty? Have you heard any funny (printable) ones, or are they all awful?
I hear jokes about colorectal surgery regularly. Some are even actually funny, but there are none I would put my name to in print, however.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy golfing, traveling and supporting my alma mater, Duke University, and cheering for whoever is playing that other school down Tobacco Road.
“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”
In the military, I admire their discipline. Being competitive, I would strive for being in an elite group such as the Green Berets or Navy Seals. I appreciate all that the military does for keeping our country safe.