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Dr. Carolyn Reed

Warrior, hero and steady as a rock

In Memoriam: 1950 - 2012

Hundreds of people from around the Charleston Lowcountry, the Palmetto State and throughout the country remember and honor the life of Carolyn E. Reed, M.D. One thing that these people have in common is how they've been touched by her passion, love for life and dedication to healing.

Reed, 62, who was an esteemed thoracic surgeon and oncologist specializing in the field of lung and esophageal cancer and a consummate advocate to her patients, died Nov. 16.

Dr. Reed makes the first cut of the cake commemorating HCC as a National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center on March 2, 2009.

Recruited to MUSC in 1985 by Fred A. Crawford Jr., M.D., former chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Reed succeeded Edward F. Parker, M.D., commonly known as the father of thoracic surgery in South Carolina. She stepped into those shoes to become the "go to" thoracic surgeon in South Carolina. She has been named among the nation's Top Doctors every year since 1996. She played a key role in developing the Hollings Cancer Center, serving as its director from 2000 to 2004 and as associate director of medical affairs from 2004 to 2012.

A trail-blazer, Reed was elected to the Southern Surgical Association in 2006, the first woman to serve as president of a major thoracic surgical organization. She was the first woman elected to the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, the accrediting body for thoracic surgeons, and the first woman to serve as its chair from 2005 to 2006. Reed also mentored generations of residents and served as an exemplar of professionalism for thoracic surgeons in training, particularly women. She was awarded the Student Teaching Award at MUSC and received multiple nominations for the Golden Apple Award.

"Dr. Reed was not only my husband John's surgeon, but also his advocate. She always made it a point to get to know her patients, and John was no exception. She found out during one of their many conversations that he loved to play golf and wondered if he would not be able to do this anymore after she removed the right upper lobe of his lung. She took the time to reassure him and drew pictures on the exam table paper of how she would not cut certain muscles that would affect his golf swing. It took awhile, but we got him back out on the golf course again. One of his best memories, one that he always talked about, was being able to go play with our son; her attention to detail and being a patient advocate made indelible memories for both a father and son." —Peggy Anthony, R.N., (right) surgical services nurse manager

One of Reed's patients, Nikki Hardin, the founder and publisher of Skirt Magazine, shared nothing but praise for her oncologist and personal hero. "From our first meeting, I knew this was the doctor I'd entrust with my life. Yes, she was a brilliant surgeon, but she was also compassionate and strong and steady as a rock, and I knew she would give me the straight-up truth about my condition every step of the journey. She was a warrior, a healer, a hero, the best guide I could have had for my passage through the dark underworld of cancer."

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m., Jan. 9 in St. Luke's Chapel. Two campus auditoriums will provide live video coverage and a reception will follow at Hollings Cancer Center. To honor her legacy, MUSC is establishing an endowed chair in her name. Donations can be sent to: The Carolyn E. Reed, MD Distinguished Chair in Thoracic Surgical Oncology, c/o MUSC Foundation, 18 Bee St., MSC 450, Charleston SC 29425-8610.

Dr. Reed, second from right, breaks ground for the seven-story addition to MUSC's Hollings Cancer Center Dec. 13, 2001 with MUSC President Dr. Ray Greenberg and others.

MUSC in memoriams – Dr. Carolyn E. Reed
Dr. Carolyn Reed was my hero on more than one occasion. Pediatric Pulmonology was not available at MUSC for many years. Dr. Reed always made herself available to us in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology when we needed her expertise. It was seldom a planned consultation, however, she was swift in her response and excellent in her care and advice. Among her many attributes and gifts to us all, she blessed us with her desire to serve and her love of all of us.
Roc Tennyson, Patient Coordinator, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

Dr. Reed was the consummate clinician – dedicated to the complete care of her patients. Many of them developed close personal relationships with her, not just because she treated their life-threatening illnesses, but because she had compassion and understanding for them as people. All of her colleagues here and beyond respected her skill, her diligence, her high standards, and her wonderful sense of humor. She will be deeply missed."
Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., MUSC President

It was my pleasure to work with Caroline Reed during my 11 years as Dean of the College of Medicine.
She once told me "I like people, and I want to know about my patients lives. I don't just operate and disappear." Most certainly all of her patients would endorse that statement. The patients that I have known each believed that he or she was her favorite. She was a wonderful doctor and a remarkable person.
Layton McCurdy M.D., Dean Emeritus, Distinguished University Professor

Some have been called "the doctor's doctor" or the "doctor's surgeon." She was the "patient's doctor" and they loved her. That, and the legacy of the residents she taught, will be her greatest legacy. She was a surgeon, but she was also a human being in the best sense of the word.
Arthur J. Crumbley, M.D., Department of Surgery

I recruited Carolyn in 1985 to succeed Eddie Parker, the "father " of thoracic surgery in SC. She quickly demonstrated that she was the perfect choice for this role and became not only a valued colleague, but a close personal and family friend. Very few days passed that we did not spend a few minutes together in one or the other's office discussing issues we had in common. She was not only a skilled surgeon but she had something extra -- the ability to relate to her patients in such a way that they truly loved her. She was a wonderful teacher and served as a role model to many women who wanted to pursue a career in surgery. She quickly developed a national reputation which ultimately led to important leadership roles in national and international thoracic surgery organizations -- the first woman in our specialty to be so recognized. She will be missed by many individuals whose life she touched, colleagues, students, residents and most of all her patients. Our specialty has lost a true giant and I have lost a great friend.
Fred A. Crawford Jr., M.D., Distinguished University Professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

We have all been greatly affected by the passing of our colleague and friend, Carolyn Reed. Carolyn meant a great deal to this institution through her various leadership roles, including her leadership of the Hollings Cancer Center, and she meant a great deal to many of us personally through her roles as physician, teacher, friend, and mentor. I came to know Carolyn well since my arrival at MUSC and learned that she was a passionate advocate for our delivering the highest quality care for all of our patients. Carolyn has left behind an incredible legacy, and will be greatly missed by all whose lives she touched.
Etta D. Pisano, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs, Dean, College of Medicine

Dr. Reed poured out her life for others and the specialty in which she chose to serve. She genuinely cared and she proved it with her actions and her leadership. It was a privilege and honor to know her and to work with her for so many years.
Rose Haselden, Department of Surgery

Dr. Carolyn Reed was an outstanding clinician and a brilliant scholar. She was also a kindhearted person who genuinely cared for the well-being of those around her. I was particularly touched by the words of advice and encouragement that she gave to students in our grant-funded summer undergraduate research program for students from historically black colleges and universities in South Carolina. She took the time out of her busy schedule to welcome the students to MUSC. She also encouraged them to explore research careers and to join MUSC's clinical and research communities. I am sure that her words had a significant impact on the career trajectory of the students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.

Dr. Reed let the students know of their career options and she encouraged them to soar toward new heights. I remain humbled by her greatness.
Marvella E. Ford, Ph.D., Associate Director, Cancer Disparities

Dr. Reed was a pioneer, advocate and colleague to many. But to me, Dr. Reed was one of the doctors who gave my mother 13 wonderful years after being diagnosed with cancer and one of the people who inspired me to go in to the field of oncology. Dr. Reed is gone from us, but she will never be forgotten.
Claudia Miller, R.N., Thoracic Nurse Navigator

Dr. Reed arrived at MUSC on July 1, 1985. I had interviewed her for the position during the prior academic year, and I was thrilled that MUSC was able to recruit someone with such outstanding credentials.

Dr. Reed hit the ground running, which would come as no surprise to any who knew her. Prior to 1985, there had been no Division of Hematology and Oncology at MUSC, and chemotherapy was given primarily by surgeons who were untrained in the modern delivery of chemotherapy. Within two days of her arrival, she received commitments from Dr. Stuart and me to establish a Thoracic Oncology Tumor Board. The commitment was that the three of us would meet each week, even if for just fifteen minutes, without exception to discuss new cases.

When Drs. Reed and Stuart arrived that same week in 1985, I received some of the best advice of my career from my mentor and Division Chief, Keene M. Wallace, who advised me to work closely with Drs. Reed and Stuart to meld my career. The point was that as a young radiation oncologist, I should focus my attention working with those two highly skilled young professionals so that we could try to build the cancer program at MUSC.

I have always felt that Drs. Reed, (Robert) Stuart and I sort of grew up together within the cancer program at MUSC. Senator (Friz) Hollings had just secured the unthinkable amount of $30 million of Federal funding for a comprehensive cancer center, which he felt was so important for the citizens of South Carolina. Along with other clinicians and researchers, we helped hammer out the core infrastructure and model for the Hollings Cancer Center. As young clinicians we were given the opportunity to participate in making the history of cancer care at MUSC, a privilege that we were proud of.

I had the honor of serving on numerous committees with Dr. Reed throughout the next twenty-seven years. No one would ever accuse her of being indirect or indecisive! I have met no one more committed to his or her job than she was to hers and have been amazed at her accomplishments. Glass ceilings were shattered as she entered the here-to-then male dominated bastion, the MUSC operating rooms. She once told me that she memorized scores of football games each weekend so that she could chat with the predominantly male fellows and residents each week in the operating room so that they would be comfortable working with her. She made us all feel comfortable but at the same time very much accountable.

I will truly miss Dr. Reed. She helped forge me into being a better person and better doctor than I might otherwise have been. I think she did that for most of us. As truly magnificent as she was with tumor boards, committees, operating rooms, etc, it was her commitment to patient care that I will remember the most. How many times did I hear her say at the end of a 5 p.m. meeting that she was heading back over to the Veterans Administration Hospital to meet with a patient and his family about an impending major surgical procedure. These meetings would invariably take an extra hour or two of her time. It was with this commitment and integrity that she accomplished everything and touched so many countless lives of patients and colleagues both at MUSC and around the world. I have lost a wonderful friend, whom I will never forget.
Buddy Jenrette, M.D., Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology

It was my great privilege to know Carolyn as a personal friend and highly esteemed colleague. She was a surgeon of both unparalleled skill and great compassion who respected the critical balance of art and science in patient care. She was a tireless advocate for restoring humanism to the practice of medicine and cultivating that value in her colleagues and the residents she trained. Dr Reed was a Pathfinder, and her legacy will continue on for generations to come.
David Cole, M.D., Chairman, Department of Surgery

As passionate as Dr. Reed was about the science and practice of medicine and surgery, she was even more passionate about the human side. Her love for her patient is what elevated her to true greatness.
John Ikonomidis, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

From our first meeting, I knew this was the doctor I'd entrust with my life. Yes, she was a brilliant surgeon, but she was also compassionate and strong and steady as a rock, and I knew she would give me the straight-up truth about my condition at every step of the journey. Throughout the operation, initial uncertainty over the severity of my cancer and my recovery, she was always 100 percent there for me and my family. She was a warrior, a healer, a hero, the best guide I could have had for my passage through the dark underworld of cancer.
Nikki Harden, Patient

Carolyn was a marvelous and unique person: an internationally renowned surgeon beloved by her patients and colleagues, an accomplished researcher involved in numerous multi-institutional studies, a high-level national and local leader who pioneered a leadership role for women in academic medicine and thoracic surgery, and a first-rate administrator exemplified by her leadership of the Hollings Cancer Center. Most of all, though, she was a wonderful friend with a great sense of humor, a refined taste for good wine and colorful M&Ms, and a great griller of steaks with her own secret sauce. It's nearly impossible to believe she's gone, and in many ways she isn't — Carolyn had an extraordinarily vital spirit and zest for life that spilled over and enriched everyone whose lives she touched. In a real sense, she lives on in all of us.
Bob Sade, M.D., Professor, Department of Surgery

Dr. Reed is part of the heart and soul of the Hollings Cancer Center. I will miss her voice, her stories. I enjoyed my meetings with her and the time traveling to various cancer centers to encourage research collaborations. I have a note from her with that tiny, neat penmanship that she famously used on each of her patient index cards. She cared deeply about her patients, co-workers and the delivery of cancer care. She blazed trails for women leaders. I'm so proud to have known her and be given the opportunity to learn and work with her. I hope to carry on her spirit in improving cancer care. I'll miss you, Dr. Reed! Thank you for all that you did and may you look down from heaven on us with a smile.
Tricia Adrales Bentz, Hollings Cancer Center- Clinical Trials Network

While it is widely recognized that Carolyn was dedicated to providing the best care to her patients, she was also responsible for moving the Hollings Cancer Center towards becoming an NCI designated cancer center. With her guidance and commitment, the Cancer Center's research programs were established. She was always an advocate of translational research and a motivating force for all who knew her. I personally enjoyed my interactions with her, both in HCC meetings and planning sessions as well as our collaborative research efforts. Among her many strengths, I particularly admired her for her ability to get to the point quickly; one always knew she was going to tell you exactly what she was thinking. Carolyn will be missed by all that were fortunate to have known her.
Dennis K. Watson, Ph.D., Leader, MCBP Cancer Biology & Cancer Genes and Molecular Regulation Programs
Hollings Cancer Center

Dr. Reed carried her patients in her heart, was passionate about her work and at all times gave her all.
Chaplain Terry L. Wilson, Pastoral Care Services

I can remember clearly the first time I met Carolyn Reed (regarding how many people can you say that?). She came to my office on our third day of work (we both started at MUSC on July 1, 1985) to ask, "So, what are we going to do about esophageal cancer?" I had never met or heard of a cardiothoracic surgeon who wanted to work exclusively on patients with thoracic malignancies. I don't think the term "thoracic surgical oncologist" had been coined; it certainly wasn't in my vocabulary. What an uplifting experience it was to meet someone like Carolyn in the first week at my new institution.
Carolyn was the driving force behind the multidisciplinary approach to thoracic cancers in South Carolina and created a superb program, despite the lack of medical oncologists at MUSC then. She richly deserved her numerous awards and accolades, and she contributed as much as anyone to the success of the Hollings Cancer Center. She is sorely missed.
Robert K. Stuart, M.D., Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Hollings Cancer Center

I don't think I have known anyone quite like Dr. Reed. She really was one of a kind. I was continuously impressed with how she gave 100 percent to everything she did. She was passionate about her medical discipline, her patients, and the mission of the Hollings Cancer Center. In the eight years that I had the pleasure of working with her, she pushed me and everyone around her to strive for excellence. Nothing less was acceptable. Her spirit is still very palpable at the Hollings Cancer Center and will inspire us all for years to come.
Anita L. Harrison, Associate Director of Administration, Hollings Cancer Center

She was a world renowned surgeon yet her humility made her Carolyn to us. She taught me how to care for patients not to just take care of them. Her patients loved her because they trusted her. She gave them security and reassurance, and that gave them hope.
Margaret Elizabeth Ramsden, P.A., Department of Surgery

My boss, my friend, my sister. I will always remember and love you.
Lavonna E. Newsome, Department of Surgery

Friday, Dec. 14, 2012

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