Posts

Dr. Patrick O'Donnell

Oncologist Patrick O’Donnell on why he has the world’s best job

Making the RoundsWe sat down with Dr. Patrick O’Donnell, an orthopaedic oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center, for our latest installment of Making the Rounds, a blog series that introduces you to the providers at UK HealthCare. Dr. O’Donnell specializes in treating bone cancer and also does reconstructive orthopaedic surgeries. 

How did you become interested in orthopaedic oncology?

I actually went into medicine with an interest in doing oncology, and I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. I had some interaction with cancer patients when I was a really young kid, and I just found it fascinating that your body could attack itself.

It got me interested in medicine, so I went to medical school saying, “I’m going to be an oncologist.” But then I did a surgical rotation and I loved it. I loved having a problem and then a surgery and then a solution. And then I ended up really liking the reconstruction, the big surgeries of orthopaedic oncology. I’ve got the best job in the world.

What kinds of conditions do you treat?

I specialize in orthopaedic oncology and reconstructive orthopaedics. I treat a lot of different types of cancers. I treat soft tissue sarcomas, bone sarcomas, bone tumors that are not cancerous tumors, and then I treat a lot of metastatic disease to bone – the so-called “bone cancer.”

Bone cancers that start in the bone are called sarcomas, and sarcomas are the rarest type of human cancer. They’re also one of the most aggressive types of human cancer. I treat both types of bone tumors – those that have started outside the bone and tumors that have spread inside the bone.

Tell us about your interest in rock climbing.

I’ve always really liked rock climbing, and Kentucky is like the world mecca of rock climbing. An hour away is the Red River Gorge, and there are over 3,000 documented climbing routes. Recently in Lexington, we’ve gotten a new climbing gym, which has been great.

I got reinvigorated with rock climbing when my daughter had a birthday party at the gym. I went and just got completely excited, and my kids got into it. And now it’s the way that I blow off steam when I’m not at the hospital. I’ve got a great group of friends that I climb with.

What’s your favorite food?

I really like Indian food mostly because I don’t get it very often, so when I do get it, it’s a big treat. My wife, she can’t do curry, she can’t do Indian food, so the only time I get Indian food is when I’m by myself.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

A weekend when I’m not working, I get to spend a lot of time with my family. My son and I will play baseball. My daughter is a really good swimmer, so we’ll get to go to a swim meet. And then we really like going out to dinner and trying all the different places in Lexington.

So, an ideal weekend would be a little bit of baseball, a little bit of swimming and going out to dinner at a new restaurant.


Watch our interview with Dr. O’Donnell, where he discusses how his experience treating patients with bone cancers has expanded treatment options for other patients with orthopaedic problems.


Next steps:

  • July is Sarcoma Awareness Month. Learn more about Markey’s Musculoskeletal Oncology team, which is nationally recognized for expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of bone tumors, soft tissue sarcomas and metastatic diseases of bone.
  • One of Dr. O’Donnell’s patients is a well-known member of the Big Blue Nation – former UK basketball player Todd Svoboda. When Todd was diagnosed with bone cancer, he turned to Markey and Dr. O’Donnell for help. Read Todd’s story.
In the latest edition of Making the Rounds, Dr. Scott Mair discusses always wanting to be a doctor, his hobbies and why he enjoys living in Lexington.

A passion for sports led Dr. Scott Mair to orthopaedic surgery

Making the RoundsWe sat down with Dr. Scott Mair, an orthopaedic surgeon at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, for our latest installment of Making the Rounds, a blog series that introduces you to some of our providers at UK HealthCare. Dr. Mair specializes in shoulder and knee arthroscopy and shoulder reconstruction.

How did you first become interested in medicine?

I grew up in Rochester, Minn., and everybody there is a doctor, basically. My dad was a pediatrician. I didn’t know there was anything else to do. I’m kind of kidding, but there are an unbelievable number of doctors there, per capita, just because the Mayo Clinic’s there and it’s a small town. So obviously I knew a lot of doctors, and they seemed to like what they did.

Why did you decide to specialize in orthopaedics?

It had more to do with my love of sports. I wasn’t a spectacular athlete, but I played a lot of sports, and I enjoyed being around sports. So when I would hear about team doctors, it seemed like a good fit. I get to work with several of the UK teams, which is a lot of fun.

What types of injuries do you treat?

Mostly what I see is shoulder problems. Probably about 80 percent of my practice is shoulder things. A lot of young athletes with stability problems, and then older people who have rotator cuff problems. But I see all kinds of other, different shoulder abnormalities, too.

What should patients know about rehab after surgery?

People think rehab is something where they have to push through the pain and do everything they’re supposed to do – which, in certain surgeries or certain rehabs, is important. But a lot of times, it’s almost the opposite, where once people start feeling well, we’ve got to slow them down because some things take months to heal.

For a lot of my younger patients especially, after a couple of months when we’ve stabilized their shoulder, they feel like they’re good as new, and they start doing things they’re not supposed to do before they’re healed. So half my time I spend trying to slow people down while they’re healing up after surgery instead of pushing them along, like you do in some surgeries.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have four daughters, so most of the time I’m doing things with them. I used to play a lot of golf, but they’re not much into that, so I spend a lot of time chasing them around for their sports and things. They range from age 12 to 20 now.

Describe your ideal weekend. 

I’d be at a UK basketball game and hanging out with my family after that, doing something with our friends. Maybe go fishing.

What do you like most about living in Lexington?

I’ve been here about 18 years and I think it’s a fun place. There’s a lot to do, it’s easy to get to big cities, but it’s not such a big place that you can’t get around where you need to go. And it’s got friendly people.

What’s your favorite movie?

I like some of the old-school movies like Caddyshack and Fletch. Those are probably still my favorites.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Scott Mair below, where he talks about why working with the student-athletes at UK is so rewarding.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, which provides leading-edge treatment for a variety of injuries and conditions.
  • When Patty Lane was diagnosed with arthritis in her hip, she was told her time as a competitive triathlete was over. That’s when she turned to UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine for a second opinion. Read Patty’s story.

Even as a child, Rachel Miller knew she wanted to be a doctor

Making the RoundsWe’re joined by Dr. Rachel Miller for our latest edition of Making the Rounds. Dr. Miller is a gynecologic oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center who specializes in ovarian cancer screening and treatment. She’s also the co-director of Markey’s new Molecular Tumor Board, a powerful tool in the fight against cancer.

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I think I knew in elementary school. I was very interested in doctoring from an early age. My mom actually saved my Fisher-Price doctor kit and cleaned it up and gave it to my son. So it is well-worn. I did a lot of physical exams when I was between the ages of 4 and 6, I think.

I was a chemistry major, and I thought I might spend some time in the lab. And I was interested in pharmacy, too. So it’s been a long-standing desire. [The challenge] was just trying to figure out what aspect of healthcare and medicine and interaction with people would work best.

What’s your favorite food?

Spaghetti and meatballs. It’s comfort food, and actually, it’s one of the first dishes that my husband made for me when we were dating. It was a birthday dish.

How would your friends describe you?

I think they’d describe me as energetic, active. Kind of crazy in that I may have a little higher work-to-off-time ratio than most of my friends, but we make the most of our time together.

Describe your ideal weekend.

I’d get out of work at a reasonable time on Friday and probably have some Mexican or Indian food or sushi for dinner – some sort of special treat for Friday night. And then on Saturday, I’d wake up – I have a 3 1/2-year-old – so I’d wake up with him in a really good mood and we’d play and have a nice, quiet breakfast. I’d go out for a run, and then we’d have an afternoon of maybe swimming in the summertime or the YMCA in the wintertime. We’d get a babysitter at 6 p.m., and I’d have an evening with my husband. Really, it’d be a quiet weekend at home. I feel like more and more we treasure the downtime and the routine family time at home.

What’s your favorite part about being a mom?

There are so many great parts about it. I think it’s just that my son challenges me in ways that I didn’t realize a 3 1/2-year-old could challenge me. I thought I had a hard job until I became a mom, and I realized that is so much more difficult at times. I just enjoy watching him grow and seeing how every day is just loaded with new experiences for him and how he approaches those experiences, watching him learn language, hearing him laugh – just the day-to-day interactions.


Watch our video interview with Dr. Miller below, where she describes the types of patients she sees at Markey and talks about why she enjoys practicing medicine in Kentucky.


Next steps:

Making the Rounds with Dr. Susanne Arnold

Meet oncologist Susanne Arnold, second-generation doctor and proud Kentuckian

Making the RoundsOur featured provider in this week’s Making the Rounds is Dr. Susanne Arnold, an oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center who treats patients with lung cancer and head and neck cancer.

Dr. Arnold is particularly interested in early therapies for cancer and leads several clinical trials at Markey.

How did you become interested in medicine?

My first memories of my life were going with my dad to the hospital because he was a doctor. And that’s how I first became interested in medicine. He was the director of the Center on Aging here for over 25 years and so I have great pride in being a second-generation doctor here at the University of Kentucky.

And even deeper than that is my love of Kentucky, because I’m an eighth-generation Kentuckian and my children are ninth-generation Kentuckians. So serving Kentucky in the little area that I can make a difference – which is in cancer care, where we have some of the biggest health disparities and highest mortality rates – is a real calling to me.

What is your patient care philosophy?

Cancer is really scary, and when you think about how you care for someone with cancer, you have to think about what their goals are first and foremost. I try to put the patient in the center and say, ‘What are your goals? How are we going to help you live your life with cancer and hopefully past the time that you have cancer?’

What characteristic do you most admire in other people?

In my patients, I admire courage because they have to face so many things and they face it so much more courageously than I feel like I would. In others, I admire those who are genuine and care about people.

If you could meet any person from history, who would it be?

I always have wanted to go back in time and see what the heck Stonehenge is really about. That seems really weird, but it’s such a wild thing. I’d love to know why it’s there. What the heck were they doing? I don’t know that I’d want to meet the Stonehenge caveman, but I would love to see that.

And I would love to meet J.R.R. Tolkien because I love his books.

How would your friends describe you?

Nerdy and that I work too hard. I hope people think of me as a kind person and that I’m generous.


Watch our video interview with Dr. Arnold, where she discusses what types of patients she sees at Markey.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about clinical trials at Markey, where our experts are advancing cancer care and giving patients access to the latest treatment options.
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with any form of head and neck cancer or lung cancer, our specialized treatment teams are here to help. Learn more about the leading-edge, personalized care we provide.
Dr. Joe Iocono is the featured physician in this week’s Making the Rounds. He is the chief of the division of pediatric surgery and vice chair of education of general surgery.

Pediatric surgeon Joe Iocono always wanted to be a doctor. Here’s why.

Making the RoundsDr. Joe Iocono is the featured physician in this week’s Making the Rounds. He is the chief of the division of pediatric surgery and vice chair of education of general surgery. Working primarily at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Dr. Iocono takes care of people’s most precious possessions – their children.

What made you want to become a physician?

I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was a little kid, and part of that was I found out real early in life that I had a surgery when I was a baby. I was a real inquisitive kind of guy, and so I would ask my pediatrician about what this scar was on my head. He taught me, each year it seemed, a little bit more about the profession, and so I just wanted to be a doctor. It was never a second thought. I was going to be a doctor from the time I was in first grade.

Is there an aspect about being a physician that is particularly rewarding?

I love teaching the fact that medicine is a true profession. It’s not a job – it’s a true privilege to do what we do. You are truly there for patients, and the satisfaction you get doesn’t come from a paycheck, it doesn’t come from accolades – other than accolades from a mom or a kid that gives you a high five in the clinic.

What place would you most like to visit?

There is a trip to Alaska where you fly in, you dogsled and then you cruise home. I keep saying that one day in my life I’m going to do that.

The most satisfying trip I just did? I went to Kenya for 11 days and operated there for the first time this April. I needed that. That was a battery charger.

How would your friends and family describe you?

Intense, directed – always goal-directed – and that I need to relax more.

Do you have any guilty pleasure musical interests?

Oh yeah: ‘80s hair bands. And if you’re a student in my operating room, you’re going to get quizzed more about ‘80s hair bands than you will about surgical anatomy. ­


Check out this video with Dr. Iocono, where he discusses the rewards of working at UK HealthCare.


Next steps:

Dr. James Liau

Pediatric plastic surgeon James Liau focuses on ‘the other side’ of surgery

Making the RoundsDr. James Liau practices the complete spectrum of plastic and reconstructive surgery. He also specializes in pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery and craniofacial surgery, focusing on comprehensive treatment of children with cleft lips and palates, congenital craniofacial deformities, as well as other more unique congenital problems requiring pediatric plastic surgery.

What attracted you to plastic surgery?

I think what really attracted me to plastic surgery was being “on the other side” of surgery. What I mean by that is, for example, in a lot of general surgery or cancer surgery they take out the disease, they take out the cancer. However, patients then have a defect. And I think a lot of times they feel like they are lacking. As a plastic surgeon you’re on the recovery side, so you’re trying to restore.

Describe your care philosophy.

When I take care of a patient, my philosophy is more about the patient. Yes they have a disease process or they may have some issues, whether it be trauma, reconstruction or cosmetic, but it’s more about the patient and what they want. What is it that bothers them, and what are they looking for to help them move on with their lives?

Can you recall your first day of medical school?

I’m originally from California, and I did my undergrad out in California at UC Berkeley. So the first day of med school at UK, I just happened to sit next to a person I had gone to school with in Pasadena. It was very ironic considering that, of all the people that I’m sitting down next to in the state of Kentucky, it was someone from California.

Is there a place you would like to go for a vacation?

Well, we’ve been doing it every year–it’s a surf trip with my wife. I usually go to Costa Rica. I’ve been to Mexico, too, and I’m actually looking at some places in El Salvador.

What’s your favorite movie?

“Maroux.” It’s a movie about these guys trying to climb Maroux, which is a peak that’s never been climbed before. They are three professional climbers, and it’s a pretty interesting saga because the first time they did it they failed. It’s a really good movie. Pretty inspiring.

Is there a type of food you like best?

Anything with noodles in it!


Check out our full interview with Dr. Liau, where he talks about what drew him to pediatric plastic surgery.


Next steps:

Making the Rounds with Dr. Stephen Duncan

Meet Dr. Stephen Duncan, renowned orthopaedic surgeon and avid cyclist

Making the RoundsIn our latest edition of Making the Round, we spoke with Dr. Stephen Duncan, a nationally recognized surgeon at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

Dr. Duncan specializes in hip surgery and hip preservation and sees patients of all ages. He’s also an avid cyclist who appreciates the importance of an active lifestyle.

What is your care philosophy when you meet a new patient?

I’m not an operate-first, meet-you-second doctor. I want to get to know you and figure out what’s the best treatment for you. And whether that’s doing medication or physical therapy or surgery, the biggest thing is getting to know you and what’s going to work for you.

What’s your favorite hobby outside of work?

Running and biking. I’ve been biking for 13 years. I used to bike competitively but now with the demands of being employed and having kids, I can’t really do it as much anymore. If I wasn’t a doctor, though, I’d be a bike mechanic.

Tell us about your family.

My wife is a pediatrician here at UK. We have two boys; they’re 5 and 7. The biggest challenge is trying to keep them out of the orthopaedic clinic. The best part of being a parent is that I get to be a kid with them.

What’s your favorite type of music?

Country. I lived in Nashville for eight years and it kind of grows on you there and then it finally just sinks in. You can actually hear the stories behind the music if you listen to it. It helps keep my blood pressure low.

What do you enjoy most about your work at UK HealthCare?

The biggest thing that gives me satisfaction is when I’ve seen that I was able to immediately help a patient in their life. When a patient comes in who has a lot of pain, and depending upon if we needed to operate on them or just do a simple injection, if they come back and give me a hug, I enjoy that.


Check out our video interview with Dr. Duncan below. He tells us more about the types of hip injuries he treats and why he chose orthopaedics as a specialty.


Next steps:

  • Duncan is hosting a public lecture about hip and knee arthritis on Dec. 8 at the Eastside Branch Public Library in Lexington. The event is free. Please call 800-333-8874 to reserve your seat.
  • Learn more about the comprehensive care for patients of all ages offered at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

Meet Dr. Aju Mathew, breast cancer specialist and history buff

Making the RoundsDr. Aju Mathew, a medical oncologist at the UK Markey Cancer Center, is featured in this week’s Making the Rounds. Making the Rounds is a Q&A series where you’ll get to know the providers at UK HealthCare and what they’re like outside the lab and clinic.

Dr. Mathew studied medicine in the United Kingdom and later in India, his home country. At the UK Markey Cancer Center, he works as part of the care team specializing in breast cancer treatment.

How would your friends and family describe you?

I think they would describe me as a very passionate person who has no hesitation voicing his opinions. I’m very passionate.

Describe your ideal weekend.

A nice sunny day where I can go out with my wife for a nice hike. I love nature and the outdoors.

What website do you visit most often?

I’m a news buff so I visit news websites a lot, but I like Facebook, too.

What’s the last movie you saw?

I saw Race. It’s a fascinating movie about Jesse Owens, an African American sprinter, and how he crossed several racial barriers and basically embarrassed the Nazis in their home territory at the Olympics. He won four gold medals.

What’s the last book you read?

I just finished a book on the history of Japan. It’s an amazing tale. Right now I’m reading a book on Eric Liddell. It’s called For the Glory. He’s an athlete – he inspired the movie Chariots of Fire, and he won the Olympic gold.

I love history.

Do you have a hobby or interest outside of medicine?

Going to the antique mall and checking out old, old newspapers. I have 1940s newspapers of the D-Day landing, and I spend time reading through them and it’s fascinating! It’s my latest hobby.

What historical or fictional character do you most identify with?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi dissident. He went against the stream of the times and made a tough decision, which is even controversial now, by opposing the Nazi regime. He sensed what is right and he did it, even in the fact of what was happening during those times.

Fictional character? Batman.


Check out our video interview below with Dr. Mathew, where he discusses the breast cancer treatment at Markey and his patient care philosophy.


Next steps:

Making the Rounds with Dr. Darren Johnson.

Dr. Darren Johnson, top-ranked knee surgeon, talks about his most important role

Making the RoundsDr. Darren Johnson, chairman of UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, joined us for our third installment of Making the Rounds, a blog series where you’ll get to know what our providers are like away from the hospital.

Dr. Johnson has been seeing patients, including UK student-athletes, at UK HealthCare since 1993, and thanks to his exceptional care, recently he was named one of the 16 best knee surgeons in North America.

In his free time, Dr. Johnson enjoys spending time with his wife, Nancy, a registered nurse, and their three children, Lauren, Kelsey and BrandonAll three Johnson children are pursing careers in medicine.

Dr. Darren Johnson

Dr. Darren Johnson

What person, real or fictional, do you most admire?

That’s a tough one because for me, you’d have to think of mentors that I’ve had. And that goes back to medical school at UCLA, residency at USC and then my fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. It’s probably just physician-mentors that I’ve had that I try to model myself after.

I’m a huge John Wayne fan, and I’m a Clint Eastwood fan, too. That’s probably it.

Do you have a favorite movie?

A favorite movie for me, personally? Probably “Braveheart.” Great movie, right? But yeah [my kids and I] go to movies a lot. I like to go to movies. Unfortunately, I don’t get to go enough.

Do you have a favorite meal or type of food you like to eat with your family?

Fortunately for my wife I’ll eat anything, but if I had to pick, growing up in Southern California, probably Mexican food.

From left to right: Dr. Johnson, Mrs. Nancy Johnson, daughters Lauren and Kelsey, and son Brandon.

From left to right: Dr. Johnson, wife Nancy, daughters Lauren and Kelsey, and son Brandon.

When you do get time off, where do you like to go?

Destin, Florida, because we’ve always gone there since our kids were little, and that’s the kids’ favorite spot. So if it’s your kids’ favorite spot, that’s your favorite spot. Pretty simple.

How would your kids describe you?

Hard worker. Expects a lot out of them. Sometimes too honest for a father – kids don’t like honesty. You know, hopefully as a great dad. That’s my most important role – being a dad.

We have a very close family.


We asked Dr. Johnson about his work with patients with sports injuries. Watch the video:


Next Steps

The second installment of our Making the Rounds series, Dr. John D'Orazio talks about how he likes to spend his vacations, his favorite foods and more.

Dr. John D’Orazio takes us back to his first day of medical school

The second installment of Making the Rounds features Dr. John D’Orazio, a clinician and researcher at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic. Making the Rounds is a Q&A series where you’ll get to know the providers at UK HealthCare and what they’re like outside the lab and clinic.

Making the RoundsDr. D’Orazio received his medical degree from University of Miami, School of Medicine, Miami, Fla. He then completed a Pediatrics residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. D’Orazio is of Italian descent, and he enjoys eating and cooking Italian food.

Dr. John D'Orazio

Dr. John D’Orazio

Where could someone find the most authentic Italian food in Lexington?

In Lexington? You’d have to come over to my house!

What do you like to cook yourself?

Well, the other night I made a good risotto. I make fresh pasta, and I make a sauce to go with it… Pizza – I do pizza a lot. The more toppings you can put on it and the less crust, the better for me!

Describe your ideal vacation.

So [my family and I] like nature. We like outdoors, we like hiking. I like photography. We’ve been three times up to the Yellowstone glacier. We’ve been a couple of times to Costa Rica – love it down there.

It would be a place like that, where you can just get away, you know. We like to rent a house for a week and just have a low-key time – go hiking, go fishing kind of a thing.

How would your friends describe you?

Optimistic, funny, kind.

Do you recall your first day of med school?

Yes. So I’m an MD, PhD – I’m a physician scientist. I did a kind of blended thing. But yes [I remember]. Just the great honor of sitting there and realizing that this is the beginning of a journey I followed my heart to.

You know, I’m the first person in my family to ever go to college, not even to mention med school. It was just a great honor, and I soaked it up like a sponge.


Watch this video to hear Dr. D’Orazio explain why making a connection with his patients is so important to him.


Next Steps