My career path
"I have two mentors, one in Europe and one in the States, who are always there to support and guide me."
I’m an oncologist and trained as a doctor and a biologist. I like caring for patients and I’m very fortunate to be in charge of the CHUV’s medical oncology unit, where we centralize the overall treatment of cancer patients and also take an interesting approach to teaching and clinical research in order to gain access to innovative therapies.
I’m passionate about my patients, who constantly show that our work has a purpose and give us amazing moments when we get to communicate with them. I’m also passionate about science, its discoveries and its questions, and the challenges and workings of politics. And my team – an amazing group of truly extraordinary professionals working in a unique, multidisciplinary environment. I like taking a team approach to treating cancer, trying to heal people, and ensuring equity in the treatment provided both here in Switzerland and further afield.
My career path. To get here, I had to organize my family like clockwork, with the help of an extraordinary partner who made it possible for me to have a career and raise my children. I have two mentors, one in Europe and one in the States, who are always there to support and guide me. And then there’s my perseverance and character, although sometimes they are held against me. And finally, a lot of hard work – more than 70 hours a week – and the encouragement I get from my patients and their friends and family.
A downside or obstacle ? There are very few women at my level. At the CHUV, less than 15% of associate and full professors were women in 2017. The Biology and Medicine Department is slightly ahead of the curve, with women making up just over a third. A university hospital is an enormous machine in which problems arise every single day, and tend to pile up. You never have to think that you’ll be done with them. I love my job, but it can sometimes be tiring. We use all the resources we have to deal with the crises that can occur – silence, action, instinct, anger, humour, procrastination and talking. There’s never a perfect or magic remedy – a crisis is still a crisis and will always be urgent and hard to handle. It’s true that I work in an environment where women are still few and far between ; we’re constantly assessed and observed critically in everything we do. And we’re often faulted for how we handled a crisis.
It’s all a matter of perception. Society assigns a series of attributes, criteria and conditions for us to fulfil as women, and they’re very different to those required of men. This divide is even clearer when the women are in the minority. You feel it every day, but you just have to get on with it.
I’m proud of the medical oncology unit and the remarkable work that my brilliant team does every day. Together, we use the latest knowledge to treat our patients, following the strictest safety standards and bringing new options to the table. I’m proud of the work done by my colleagues in all areas of cancer treatment. We make a contribution to the patients, to science and to our knowledge of the disease. My strength is my team – they know they can count on me to support them whatever the circumstances.