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This is the second in a two-part blog post about Dr. Joanie Mayer Hope, who will talk about combining her clinical expertise with the healing power of music at ACCC’s 45th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit on March 20-22 in Washington, D.C. Click here to read Part I.
Joanie Mayer Hope’s journey into medical practice was an unconventional one. Before entering medical school at age 30, she held a variety of jobs, including that of a multicultural educator and a private investigator. And, of course, she had her singing voice. Dr. Mayer Hope says her diverse interests came together in her practice of medicine, which has allowed her to address social justice issues and have a unique outlet for her music. After completing a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a three-year fellowship in gynecologic oncology, Dr. Mayer Hope and her young daughter left New York City in 2010 for the frozen landscape of Alaska, where her expertise was sorely needed.
Dr. Mayer Hope would have her work cut out for her in her new home state. There, she joined the only other gynecologic oncologist in all of Alaska—a woman who had spent the previous decade caring for women with gynecologic cancers throughout the state. Dr. Mayer Hope did not anticipate that her only professional colleague would leave Alaska shortly after she arrived there.
“It was my turn to be the only gynecologic oncologist in Alaska,” she says. “It was a scary prospect. I was in a new place, and I was a single mom with a three-year-old child.”
But, as she does with many things, Dr. Mayer Hope turned a challenge into a triumph. In 2012, she founded Alaska Women’s Cancer Care in Anchorage. The following year, she hired the state’s second gynecologic oncologist. Today, Dr. Mayer Hope is also the Director of Gyn Oncology at ACCC member Providence Alaska Cancer Center and the Alaska Native Medical Center.
During the past decade, Dr. Mayer Hope has also found time to expand her social justice activism by creating the nonprofit group, Let Every Woman Know. Run almost entirely by volunteers, the group organizes activities that provide education, support, advocacy, and art programs for women with gynecologic cancers, their families, and their supporters.
Let Every Woman Know often draws on the healing power of music to bring people together with the goal of achieving more awareness of and funding for gynecologic cancers. “With the money we raise, we are able to fund support groups, retreats, speakers, a hip-hop dance team, and other activities,” Dr. Mayer Hope explains.
The oncologist/singer/social justice warrior believes strongly in what she calls the healing power of the hip-hop genre. “Hip hop has the ability to effectively tell difficult stories in the first person,” she explains. During her March 22 address at ACCC’s upcoming annual meeting, Dr. Mayer Hope will discuss how her latest recorded single, “Any Mountain,” uses hip-hop rhythms to explore the experience of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
“Before I became a doctor, I told my parents that if a music career worked out for me, I would leave medical school,” recalls Dr. Mayer Hope. Today, she’s learned that, far from being incompatible, medicine and music can be combined to promote healing far beyond the confines of her medical practice.
From pre-conferences to Deep Dive Workshops, see what else is in store for the upcoming ACCC 45th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit in Washington, D.C., March 20-22.