Medical oncologist Chau Dang specializes in the treatment of women with breast cancer, and her research focuses on developing more-effective and less-toxic treatment strategies. Recently, Dr. Dang was appointed Chief of the Medical Oncology Service at MSK West Harrison, our newest suburban outpatient treatment center, opening in October. We spoke to Dr. Dang about her new role and why she’s excited to work closer to home.
Can you talk a little bit about what your new job will entail?
I will be the Chief of the medical oncologists practicing at our West Harrison site. Even though I am a breast cancer medical oncologist, I will be overseeing the activities of oncologists who specialize in other types of cancer, managing their clinical duties as well as their research activities. I will make sure that our doctors will have protected time to carry out their research, and I will also be collaborating with their disease-specific chiefs in Manhattan. Most of our physicians will be clinical investigators, meaning that they will also be conducting clinical research in their disease type.
West Harrison was designed to extend the culture [of MSK] from the Manhattan site out to Westchester and the surrounding communities, so that we can bring what we’ve been doing in Manhattan to the local area, providing not only excellent clinical care but also a large array of clinical trials for our patients in the vicinity. Our goal is to offer a robust array of trials for patients in West Harrison and the surrounding communities.
How will you and other physicians who have been based in Manhattan now divide your time?
I will be [at West Harrison] four out of five days [per week] because I will be seeing patients in Manhattan one day a week, and I will be seeing patients in West Harrison two days a week. And most of the doctors will be doing the same.
Why did working at the West Harrison location appeal to you?
Well, I am from the community. I’ve been out there for over ten years, and so this was just a wonderful opportunity. And after discussing the role with my mentors and the key leaders here, it was clear to me that the West Harrison site was built really as part of the “One MSK” mission, which is that [our care] should be the same [at all our locations]. We want the services to be similar not only in terms of the clinical care but also in terms of our research activities. It’s also hard for many patients to have to come into the city for care.
Do you think you’ll have a different interaction with patients when they’re in their own community?
Yes. You know, it is stressful [to commute into Manhattan]. I mean, it's more than 20 miles. It seems like a short distance, but some days it can be a long commute, depending on when patients may be slated to come in. If they’re asked to come in in the middle of the day, it could be an all-day affair for them because of traffic coming in and going home, so [the opening of West Harrison] will make our patients’ lives a lot easier. We have many patients in the Westchester area and the Connecticut area and in the Hudson Valley, so it will really be a plus for them and their families.
Do you live in Harrison?
I do! I have a son who attends Harrison Avenue School and we are part of the YMCA in Rye, which is a nearby town. And we are part of the recreational center in Harrison, so he has been there for his activities. We've gotten to know the community well and have enjoyed our friends there. We spend our weekends just getting to know our neighbors, socializing with our friends, and sharing quality time in exploring neighborhoods in the towns that surround Harrison like Mamaroneck and Rye, which are very close by. We actually love to go to the Harrison library. I know people read on their Kindles and they read on their laptops, but we love to go to the library and actually pick books from the shelves — reading a book, feeling it! As far as fun activities go, we enjoy going out to dinners with friends and with our family. We also have our favorite restaurant in Harrison. Friday night’s our night at Pizza 2000 — a lot of families are there on Friday night with their kids!
How does your family feel about your new role?
They love it! I’ll get home at a normal hour in time to have dinner with my husband and son, which I’ve hardly ever been able to do. I usually walk in the door just in time to help my son with homework and put him to bed. When I told him about my new job he said, “That’s great! Now you can have dinner with us!” So it’s lovely for me to be closer to home.
Learn more about our West Harrison location, which will open its doors October 6, and find out about the many services it will offer.