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Talks with Docs: Kirstyn Brownson, Breast Cancer Surgeon

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Video Transcript

Treating a patient isn't just a medical treatment, it's a humanistic act as well as a scientific endeavor.

My name is Kirstyn Brownson and I'm a surgical breast oncologist here at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

When did you decide to study medicine?

My path to medicine is kind of a circuitous one. My first career passion was classical ballet. I ended up with an injury from that. My injury was the first time that I really experienced the patient's point of view and I recognized how terrifying and vulnerable it can be to be a patient trying to navigate the health care system. Treating a patient isn't just a medical treatment. It's a humanistic act as well as a scientific endeavor.

What is your ideal day off like?

My perfect day would be going on a nature walk with my husband and my rescue greyhound, Queenie. I love spending time with them and living in Salt Lake is really a treasure that we get to be surrounded by all this natural beauty.

I also really enjoy reading and writing—specifically writing poetry.

What’s a favorite memory from medical school?

One of the highlights of my intern year as a surgery resident was a poem that I had written as a medical student got accepted into a competition at Dartmouth Medical Center and then was selected to be read aloud on a local syndicate of NPR. It was specifically a poem about being an observer of the process of cancer, kind of the competing sides of science and then also the soul or the spirit.

Who has inspired you?

My first ballet teacher was named Moscelyne Larkin. She was really an inspiration to me because she was this beautiful woman who just exuded passion for ballet. She was one of the five Native American Indian ballerinas from Oklahoma and I had the opportunity to study with her.

What do you love most about working at Huntsman Cancer Institute?

My patients inspire me every day. I deal mainly with female patients as a breast cancer surgeon and I think that has something to do with it. Women are so open about their experience and that is really helpful to the health care provider in order to personalize the treatment journey for those patients. One of the reasons breast cancer care has advanced so much in the last 20 years is because women are asking "Why do I need this?" or are questioning their treatment and are engaging with their physician in their care and I think that's really critical again towards my goal of personalized medicine and delivering the best care for my patients.

Cancer touches all of us.