Cure Cervical Cancer’s Mission is to detect and prevent cervical cancer around the globe, by establishing and supporting permanent screening clinics worldwide. Photo by: Yvonne Neng
We asked the questions and Dr. Jennifer Lang, Medical Director and Vice-Chair of the CCC Board, gave us the insightful answers that will leave you feeling like you found a good friend and an even better purpose to get behind.
What inspired you to become a doctor?
I was always fascinated by the human body and naturally drawn to study it, heal it and take away pain.
Why did you switch to working for a nonprofit?
I looked at my unique situation living in Los Angeles and decided that my skills could have more impact bringing preventative services to women in under-served and resource-poor regions.
Dr. Jennifer Lang teaches cervical cancer pathology to 20 healthcare providers at the Kisii Level 6 Hospital in Kisii, Kenya.
What is your favorite thing about working for CCC?
The opportunity to bring such simple screening and treatment to women who might otherwise die of a completely preventable disease. I strongly believe in preventative medicine.
How to you balance your home and work life?
Working at this particular non-profit has allowed me more flexibility in a work schedule that can accommodate my family’s needs. I can answer an email from Kenya while waiting to do school pick-up, not so much when I was on call 24/7 or had patients booked back-to-back in an afternoon.
What career advice do you have for girls or young women?
This is a very tough question. I’m not sure I have any advice. I think we have a LONG WAY to go as a society to work towards changing the workplace so that it is truly a healthy and supportive place not just for women but for families. Perhaps I can say this: it’s going to be tough and its going to be painful but please remember that you are not alone and the difficulties you are going to face are not unique to you or due to any kind of failure or inadequacy on your part. Find a strong group of supportive female friends and keep yourself linked into community so you don’t feel isolated going through these challenges.
Cure Cervical Cancer travels to regions that might not otherwise have access to preventative screening services.
What was your favorite country to start a clinic in?
I have had incredible experiences in every country CCC establishes clinics in. What is remarkable to me is how similar we all are, despite enormous geographical, cultural or religious diversity. You can flash a picture of your kids in Halloween costumes to just about any woman anywhere and get an enormous smile and acknowledgment of shared experience.
Do you keep in touch with the women you meet around the world?
We do, particularly with doctors and nurses who are perhaps more likely to have internet access. We are Facebook friends with many of them. The shared experience of one of our trainings is unparalleled. When you’ve scrubbed dirty speculums with someone using a headlamp because the thunderstorm cut out the electricity to the clinic you’re pretty much bonded for life. I’ve also had a group from Nigeria live with me in my home for a week when we had to adjust a training program due to security concerns.
What do you like doing on your time off?
I’m training for an Ironman triathlon, so my time off is dominated by swim, bike and run. I also love reading fiction and host a monthly book club. And, of course, all of this is when the kids are sleeping. As moms know, when kids are awake there is no such thing as “time off.”
What’s your favorite hobby or pastime?
Outside of triathlon training and reading and discussing literature, I also love rock-climbing, dancing and horseback riding. “Play” in any form is an important theme in my life. It’s what charges me up and gives me the inspiration to push my own boundaries personally and professionally.
Dr. Jennifer Lang with newly trained nurses and Dr. Rodney Baptiste, the director at Bethesda Hospital in Cap-Haitian, Haiti.
What are you most proud of regarding CCC and its accomplishments?
CCC has so many accomplishments I feel enormously proud of, but the training and certification program of local healthcare professionals really stands out. I now have 2 concrete examples of nurses who lost jobs that were providing for their families, and were able to leverage their skill sets in cervical cancer screening and treatment to get new jobs.
What is your favorite place in the world to vacation?
I was raised on a farm in rural southern Ontario, Canada. There is a giant pink granite boulder at one of the highest points on the property which we named the “Red Rock.” You can see the horizon in every direction when you stand on top of that boulder. That specific stone is incredibly special to me, and one of the places on the planet I can always return to when I want to remember exactly who I am and why I am here.