NEW YORK – The Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMSNY) held its 2019 Dr. Mary Kalopathakes Distinguished Female Physician Awards Ceremony in the Bruno Conference Room at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. The event is named in honor of Dr. Mary Kalopathakes, the first Greek-American physician to be admitted to the Medical School at the University of Paris in 1886.
For the ninth year since the creation of this tradition, the Society honored another eminent physician, Dr. Katherine Economos, Director of the Gynecology Oncology Division at New York Presbyterian-Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, with the Dr. Mary Kalopothakes 2019 Distinguished Female Physician Award.
Dr. Economos, obviously passionate about her work, gave the Keynote Lecture on Ovarian Cancer: New Concepts in Origin, Prevention, and Treatment, informing her colleagues and all those present about the insidious disease of ovarian cancer and highlighting the importance of increasing women's awareness for prevention of the disease.
As Dr. Economos said, three-quarters of women who have ovarian cancer are officially diagnosed with the disease after a fairly long delay when it has already spread. This malignant tumor spreading is the most common cause of death. If, however, detected early, it is confined to the ovary and is likely to be treated successfully.
The disease is manifested by a wide variety of symptoms such as persistent bloating, loss of appetite, rapid saturation, abdominal pain, frequent urination, constipation, intense fatigue without a specific cause, weight loss or post-menopausal bleeding.
The risk increases when there is family history, delayed menopause, estrogen replacement therapy, infertility, and reduced with childbirth, the birth control pill, hysterectomy, and breastfeeding.
“Women should not put their lives at risk because of the poor awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. If women know the symptoms and are able to associate them with the disease, then lives will be saved,” Dr. Economos said.
When asked how she feels about her award, she told The National Herald that “it is a great honor and privilege to be honored by my colleagues. I sincerely want to inform women about something they can prevent, such as ovarian cancer. If you have the knowledge, you can create the change. Doctors may not do all the tests they should, but if you as a patient are aware of this illness, you can tell your doctor and ask for the special tests to protect yourself. I want to give this message to our audience today and add that therapies are improving and people are getting more and more informed. That's why I became a doctor – for the reason we all become doctors – to help people. My passion is surgery and I have particular sensitivity to cancer patients, who are different than other patients. They are fighting to live, and this creates very profound relationships with us, the doctors treating them.”
Dr. Stella Lymberis, who is one of the founding members of the annual event, told TNH that this endeavor is constantly expanding and gives HMSNY the opportunity to promote and reward the contributions of Greek-American doctors, such as the honoree Dr. Economos, "who is a respected scientist and a surgeon at a time when this profession is rare for women. She has enormous experience and knowledge as an oncologist and gynecologist and trains surgeons.”
HMSNY’s new President Dr. Panagiotis Manolas seems determined to make changes to the Society but also has great enthusiasm for his associates.
When asked about how he is adjusting to his new duties as HMSNY President, he told TNH, “I'm fine! I have an amazing team around me. I have never been able to work alone. I was born among the honeybees and learned from the bees to communicate with a group of people, just as bees do. Bees have 1 mg of brain, but have found a way to communicate and interconnect their brain, to do so-called networking. They combine up to 10,000 brains, so their brain as a group reaches farther than the monkey's brain. They know how far away their food is and understand the distance up to 15 kilometers. So teamwork is very important. This group has a very positive energy. We have no conflicts and we are doing more and more successful events with more people. We have increased our membership over the last three months.”
Following Dr. Economos’ speech, the attending HMSNY members asked many interesting questions and the evening concluded with announcements by Dr. Manolas about upcoming events of the Association and the long-awaited updating of the HMSNY website, which was realized especially through the efforts of Dr. Lorraine Chrisomalis and her secretary.