"Somebody led me down this path so I could help the ones I love."
Karen Quinlan is retiring after a more than 20-year career specializing in cancer care. She became director of Cancer Services at the Cancer Institute of Doylestown Hospital in 2003. Personally, she has lost a brother and mother-in-law to cancer, had a close call with her husband, and lost dear friends to the disease.
Karen has made many friends among her colleagues and the patients whom she has cared for. During this season of thanks, we ask her what she is grateful for.
Karen describes the patients she has known as "an amazing group of people." "I will always remember the wonderful patients and families that I have met along the way…and the lessons they taught of courage, strength and humor during difficult times. Their appreciation of the simple things in life is a powerful lesson that we should all learn to live."
Her field is not depressing, she reminds people who mistakenly believe so. "Sure we have days when your heart is broken, sure that happens. But you learn to take pleasure out of each moment you were able to help a person. That's what you get the satisfaction from."
As for her staff and colleagues at Doylestown Hospital, Karen says, "It's our culture that we care for each other. We're such a wonderful team. I am so thankful for them and for all they have done for me and most especially our patients."
A number of volunteers, many of them affected by cancer or survivors themselves, give their time at the Cancer Institute. "Their experience, kindness, and altruistic nature lead them to give of themselves and help others."
And finally, family. Karen comes from a family of 10 children. She and husband, Bryan, have two daughters and two grandchildren. Karen helped Bryan with his business for 20 years. Then it was his turn to help her as she started a nursing career, earning a Master's degree and certification in oncology nursing. "I'm thankful for my husband's support. And that is what marriage is about. You just go through and you help each other."
Karen is thankful for the "gift of insight", that immutable "whisper from God" that told her to force her husband to get a colonoscopy and chest x-ray for his birthday. He had early stage lung cancer and a pre-cancerous colon mass that were treated successfully. Those screenings "turned out to be the gift that saved his life."
In addition to spending time with family, Karen plans to continue to help others in her retirement, perhaps as a volunteer or with her church. "I want to get back to being able to help somebody in a positive way."
About Doylestown Health's Cancer Institute
Doylestown Health's Cancer Institute offers patients the quality care they expect from a leader in cancer diagnosis and treatment — close to home. Accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and a member of Jefferson's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Network, our board-certified physicians and oncology-certified practitioners provide comprehensive, coordinated care and services for the full range of cancer diagnoses including breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
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