Dr. Carrie Heincelman joined the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center as an attending physician in orthopedic oncology in August 2019. She grew up in New Mexico and is a long-time Red Sox fan.
How would you describe the work of an orthopedic oncologist?
Patients get sent to us, essentially, anytime there’s an abnormality found in either the bone or the soft tissues surrounding the bone. Sometimes the abnormalities are benign (non-cancerous) and we don’t have to do anything. Other benign conditions can still impact the strength of the bone, and we need to intervene in some way. Sometimes, the child has cancer of the bone or soft tissue. In such cases, we work closely with the medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and other specialists to treat the cancer.
It sounds like a lot of the families you see are probably scared. How do you address their fears?
Anytime I see a new patient, my first job is to address whatever the family is concerned about. As a provider, it’s easy to get caught up in the plan of care, when all the family really cares about is, “Does my kid have cancer?” From there, we can have a conversation about what’s going to happen next. But yes, it’s definitely an appointment that most families don’t want to have and it’s important for me to understand and acknowledge that.
What do you love most about your job?
I know it’s cliché, but definitely the patients. I love the technical aspects of what I do, but at the end of the day, the interactions with patients are the best part of my job, especially when it comes to kids. Kids are smart, they know what’s going on, and they’re just as attentive as their parents, and often just as scared. And so, to be on a team with them is definitely the highlight of any day.
Is there anything about you that surprises your patients?
I’m the first person from New Mexico a lot of my patients have met. That’s one thing. I also love baseball and often end up talking about the Red Sox with them. New Mexico doesn’t have a professional baseball team so I grew up following several teams, but I’ve always loved the Red Sox. Many of my patients have been surprised by how much I know about the players and what’s going on in the season.
What music is on your phone right now?
One of my favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What was your favorite game as a child?
I’ve always loved sports. Growing up, I gravitated to games like baseball or tennis. But my family was also into board games. We’d play Monopoly for weeks on end, until someone won or got too frustrated and quit.
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I’d have to say, one of my family’s dogs, because we spoil them terribly. They often get the best seat in the house. I think it would be pretty fun as well. Dogs are so carefree.
Learn more about the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center.
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