Dr. Lacey Pitre happy to be working and living in Sudbury

Dr. Lacey Pitre, a well-known medical oncologist at Health Sciences North in Sudbury. LEN GILLIS / NOMJ 2019

If there was ever a poster girl for the physician who most loves to live and work in Northern Ontario it might be Dr. Lacey Pitre, a well-known medical oncologist at Health Sciences North in Sudbury.

Pitre who was born and raised in Sudbury is a graduate of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, but she also spent five years doing post-graduate studies in southern Ontario. Less than a week after completing those studies, Pitre was back home in Sudbury opening her practice.

She has been part of the oncology department at the Northeast Cancer Centre which is part of Health Sciences North (HSN) in Sudbury since 2015.

She said her decision to become a physician goes back several years and there is a personal reason for it.

“When I was in university, in my very early twenties, my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Pitre who also added she was impressed with the expertise and level of care that was provided.

“The first time I walked into the oncology clinic and saw the treatments available to my Mom, well it was overwhelming at the time, but also very exciting,” she said.

“At that time in breast cancer a new drug called Trastuzumab, or Herceptin, a special antibody had just been approved and it was a new and the most cutting-edge way to treat breast cancer and my Mom qualified for that treatment.

“So I have a lot of very distinct memories of meeting the medical oncologist for the first time and hearing about the treatment and hearing that my Mom needed chemo-therapy and hearing that she qualified for this really exciting new treatment,” Pitre recalled.

Following the chemo-therapy, there were radiation treatments.  Pitre recalled riding along with a cancer centre volunteer that drove her mother back and forth for treatments for several weeks.

“We just really benefitted from having a cancer centre that was close by.  We really benefitted from having medical oncologists that were up to date and performing research and putting patients on clinical trials. We benefitted from the amazing radiation suite, the volunteers and it was a really seamless process,” she said.

“My Mom is alive and well to this day and I firmly believe it was because of you know, the nurses, the oncologists, the volunteers and everybody that made it possible to have a cancer centre in the North.”

Pitre said her mother was receiving optimal medical care which was what helped to convince her to become a physician and to attend the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM).

“This was the second year that the Northern Ontario medical school was up and running but my Mom really wasn’t finished all her treatments.  We were still very connected with the cancer and the hospital and that is actually what prompted me to choose the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.”

Once she graduated from NOSM, Pitre said her goal was to become a medical oncologist. She said that would require additional five years of post-graduate studies.

“So I went to McMaster (University) and did three years of internal medicine at McMaster. It was an amazing place to have my further studies. When I graduated from internal medicine, I did a medical oncology fellowship.

“I knew with certainty I wanted to move home. It was about four days after finishing my medical oncology fellowship in Hamilton I started my practice in Sudbury,” Pitre recalled.

Pitre said she and her husband both loved living in Hamilton and near Toronto, enjoying the restaurant scene, taking in professional baseball and hockey games.

She said it wasn’t hard to find reasons to live in Sudbury, even though many of her close friends continued to live in larger cities in Southern Ontario. She said sometimes they kid her about it, but Pitre said she answers them right back.

“I usually tell them how little I paid for my mortgage and how beautiful my house is,” she said with a genuine laugh.

On the serious side, Pitre said being part of the health care scene at HSN Sudbury is also a compelling reason for her.

“My colleagues, the other physicians, the allied health care, the administrative help, it’s all amazing. It is a great hospital to work at. There are great people in the cancer centre particularly. So this is a really amazing place to work,” she said.

Pitre said she is also pleased to be able to carry out clinical trials for cancer research.  She explained there are five breast cancer clinical trials underway at the moment, where new treatments and new drugs are provided to a specific group of patients.  It helps to measure how effective the treatments are as well as determining whether there are unwanted side effects.

She said if the new drug or procedure works better, then it becomes the new standard of care.

“It feels good to be able to do something here in the North to ensure that patients are getting the best possible health care. So that feels good.”

 

 

 

Filed in: Briefs, Education, Featured, News

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