UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Spring 2017 - Page 15

to give them as much information about prostate cancer in an education-appropriate setting that I can,” he says. “How can I get them to understand the complexities of this so that they can make an educated decision about an incredibly complicated disease? Some cancers are easier in the sense that the patient has a mass, and we have to take it out. Whereas with prostate cancer, there may be five different treatment options that are all reasonable and appropriate. We’re approaching the era where every prostate cancer is not the same in how we diagnose it and how we treat it. The way we deal with it now is different from the way we dealt with it 20 years ago, and the way we deal with it in 20 years will be different from the way we deal with it now.” That personalized approach to care is one of Dr. Nix’s favorite aspects of his work. “The whole ‘you need to set yourself apart from your patients,’ I don’t do that,” he explains. “As I went through training, I was drawn to cancer for several reasons. One, I love the patient population. They are 65 and older, for the most part, and they are people who have lived long lives and have rich experiences. I get to interact with them in a period of uncertainty, so there’s a quick relationship-build there. I get to really dive into these people’s lives quickly, which I think is my favorite part of the job.” Adds Dr. Nix: “The uniqueness, the individualized care is only applicable is you’re learning about your patients and getting to know them.” Dr. Nix also enjoys teaching and training residents to be the next generation of cancer physicians. Providing them with the hands- on experience necessary to become top-notch surgeons is extremely compelling, he says. “I’m always trying to push what we do and how we do it, because our residents want to know why we do things a certain way and if there are ways we can do it better,” he says. “If I can help a patient with cancer, that’s rewarding. If I can make a difference more globally, in either the state or region, that’s even more rewarding. That’s part of the reason I enjoy training surgeons. If I train 10, 20, 50, 100 great surgeons over my career, that’s that many more people I can help.” Maintaining a Mindset Finding the balance between maintaining an active research and clinical practice with a busy personal life is difficult, but Dr. Nix has become accustomed to juggling his many responsibilities. “Lots of nights, lots of weekends, lots of reading after the kids go to bed,” he says. “The main thing that drives us as physicians is not the availability of time. Dr. [Selwyn] Vickers [dean of the UAB School of Medicine] says people get into this because it’s their drive and passion. I spend extra time doing this work because it is what I’m passionate about.” In what spare time he does have, Dr. Nix enjoys spending time with his family, which includes his three-year-old daughter Josie Kate, and six-year-old son Judah, whom he and his wife adopted from Ethiopia at just four months old. He is also an extremely active runner and tries to average 15 to 20 miles per week. “That’s my mood stabilizer – running for my sanity,” he says with a laugh. Keeping in mind that adage that “mindset is everything,” Dr. Nix tries to keep his life – both personal and professional – in perspective. “I’m very lucky to be a cancer 7W&vVBF&PVrVR( R62( vVvRvWB֗&V@FvFRF'BvRfRF&6WB&V֖@W'6VfW2rf'GVFRvR&R6RPvFFRW'7V7FfRbfr6VV#VRF@FvFWr66W"Fv626FRw&@66VRbFw2W"&bVr2BFB&pbFV( vV( BFR6WFW"BF&VB@vFrFvR&V֖Bח6Vbbv@( FrBv( FrBFBV2PF&R6VFW"6vVB6W2F֖G6WB&VpWfW'Frb6FR6&Rbח6VbN( 0V6W"FFFB֖G6WBB&RFR&W7@6&R( Т2rR"220( ( Ėb6VFVBvF66W"FN( 0&Wv&Frखb6PFffW&V6P&Rv&ǒVFW"FP7FFR"&VvFN( 2WfV&P&Wv&Fr( ХR"RBR22R 0