UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Winter 2018 2018 Volume XXXIII Number 3 - Page 11

Meet Liz Birrer By KENDR A CARTER For Elizabeth Birrer, the quality she admires most in her husband Dr. Michael Birrer is his dedication—whether to a person, principle, or project. “Once he takes on the responsibility or cause, he calmly and logically analyzes it, taking it step by step,” she says. “Things that appear overwhelming, he makes look so obvious and easy.” But she herself is not one to back away from a challenge either. A physical therapist for more than 30 years, Mrs. Birrer has seen endless opportunities in her career, including working for hospitals, rehabilitation centers and in home health, working with both pediatric and adult patients. She even owned her own outpatient therapy clinic in Maryland for 15 years, exposing her to the challenges of working with insurance companies and navigating the ever-changing health care system. Her current endeavor is working with children who have diagnoses of autism with severe behavioral issues. “I love the continual challenges that my field has to offer and the opportunity to work with so many unique individuals,” she says of physical therapy. “You spend a lot of time with each person to find what motivates them, and you really get to build a trusting relationship. I am always amazed at what they can accomplish and their drive. “Each individual challenges me to be a better therapist, and I like to think that I impact their life and future in a positive way well.” The spirit for challenges and possibilities is what attracted the Birrers to Birmingham and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Mike is committed to his vision to help the Cancer Center to thrive and to move forward. Making this move was definitely the next step in his career and a challenge that he felt he had the experience to meet. In addition, we were looking for a change from the Northeast where we both have spent most of our time. When we visited Birmingham, the fit felt right.” The couple, who met while Dr. Birrer was a medical student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Mrs. Birrer was in her final year of physical therapy school, has been married for 35 years. They have three adult children: Michael, Nicole, and Elizabeth, daughter-in-law Lauren and grandson Michael James III. Mrs. Birrer says the couple’s favorite activities outside work are spending time with their children, tending to their garden, getting outdoors and exploring new restaurants. She says the move to Birmingham will be a great experience for both she and her husband. “We are excited about exploring Birmingham, with all it has to offer in the arts, the cuisines, and the culture, but more importantly we really felt a sense of community when we visited,” she says. “We look forward to becoming a part of it.” # K N O W U A B C C C • U A B . E D U / C A N C E R 9