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Spotlight on top oncologist Anne Favret

Find out what it’s like to dedicate your life to battling cancer.

Photo by Jonathan Timmes

Dr. Anne Favret was recruited to join Virginia Cancer Specialists right after she finished her medical oncology fellowship at Stanford University. The youngest of 11 with eight older brothers, Favret was the only woman doctor in the group. “They knew of me through some connections and joked that they recruited me because they knew I would be able to deal with all the guys,” she says.

Twenty years later, Favret remains at the practice caring for breast cancer patients. “We have a great group,” she says. “No one has left unless they retired. I have full respect for my partners, every last one of them. A really smart group. A really compassionate crowd. … I can’t say enough about the people that I work with and I think that is rare where a group of physicians get along so well. It’s definitely mutual respect.”

Becoming a physician first appealed to Favret in high school. She was drawn to the field for multiple reasons, including the appeal of a secure career, variety of daily activities and helping others. A Temple University Medical School graduate, she decided on specializing in breast cancer during her residency at Georgetown University after positive experiences with oncology physicians and patients.

When patients come in for their first appointment, many are scared. “I try particularly at that first meeting to write everything down,” Favret says. “What I am explaining to them, I am writing everything down so that they can take that home with them and with their spouse look over that … which I think helps them focus on what it really is because I think it is really tough for the patients who are getting so much information. I am empathic to that.” She also tries to make the appointment more than just about cancer. She likes to get to know them by asking about their work, kids or grandchildren.

She notes the hardest part of her job is not always being able to meet patient expectations. “It can be very difficult to give news that (the patient doesn’t) want to hear or your expectation was the treatment was definitely going to work and it doesn’t,” Favret says.

Favret mainly treats women, including pregnant women with breast cancer. “It’s so fun to watch their kids get older,” she says. “You feel invested. I’m like ‘Bring in your baby! Let me see pictures!’ because you are with them through that really tough time of chemotherapy and delivery, and often chemotherapy when they have a newborn.”

After a day at work, Favret loves sitting down in her home knowing the work she did made a difference in others’ lives. “I love what I do,” she says. “I really do. I think I made a really good pick (for a career). … You are meeting with women who have breast cancer all day long and you are helping them come up with a treatment plan. It is really very gratifying and I like the people I work with. I am very well supported. We have fun on a given day and I think patients feel that. They feel our enthusiasm for being there and they mostly appreciate that.”

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