It takes a special individual to become a pediatric oncologist. U.S. News & World Report Top Doc Jennifer Pearce M.D., Associate Professor in the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center, is such a person and worthy of the accolades. She loves what she does, explaining that the majority of children stricken with cancer these days do survive and grow up to lead normal lives. Winning the war against the disease is cause for great celebration.
Pediatric oncology care differs from adult cancer treatment, as the cancers seen in children are biologically different than in adults and are often susceptible to treatment. Also, the overall good health of children means that they often tolerate therapy much better than the adult population.
Dr. Pearce attributes Albany Med’s high rate of success to being in an academic environment and all the resources available. Albany Med has specialists in every possible specialty who are available around the clock. Patients can often be attended to the same day and not have to wait weeks for an appointment. Because she and other attending physicians also teach medical students, interns and residents, they are always challenged in an ever-changing field, to assimilate and impart the most up-to-date information.
When asked about working in a hospital-based practice, Dr. Pearce says it is the best possible setting. Everyone gets to know each other and is committed to the children. There is no rush to move patients through even if it means sitting on the floor to examine an 18-month-old who wants to play. Dr. Pearce takes as much time as she needs to get to know the patients and their families, often becoming intimately involved with them all. They rejoice together, cry together, and give each other strength. The practice of pediatric oncology, she explains, is one that even in the darkest situations, there is lots of love and light. There is laughter even among the tears and always caring. With Dr. Jennifer Pearce each case is personal.