Dr. Sue Ettinger: She sees. She does.

June 16, 2016
Sue Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM (oncology)
Sue Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM (oncology)

Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practicing veterinary cancer specialist, international speaker and book author. She is one of about 300 board-certified specialists in medical oncology in North America and is currently practicing at the VCA Animal Specialty & Emergency Center in the Wappingers Falls, New York.

You know her as oncologist Dr. Sue Cancer Vet, the force behind the See Something, Do Something early cancer detection campaign. This could also be the tagline for her life adventures thus far.

Dr. Ettinger and her family.Discerning the right path

Dr. Ettinger with India Tuthill, LVT, and Tejas, who had a soft tissue sarcoma that was successfuly treated with clean, wide margins. In veterinary school, I was mentored by an amazing surgery resident and I wanted to follow his path. I selected surgery rotations early in my internship and prepped a manuscript on orthopedics and then applied for a surgery residency. Even though I was crushed when I did not match, I realized oncology was where my real passion was. As I look back, not being chosen for that surgery residency was the best career decision made for me. So I am thankful for the heart-crushing rejection and the specialty change it inspired.

Spotting significant others

Eighteen years ago, I met my husband [Kerry Heuter, DVM, DACVIM] during our crazy, over-worked internship in New York City. He was on the rebound, and I never thought he'd marry me. This year we celebrate our 13th anniversary with our two sons and our goofy black Labrador. I could not imagine a better partner and best friend to share our adventures.

[Dr. Ettinger's other big meet: Veterinary technician Amanda and her dog Smokey, who were the inspiration for her effort to investigate suspicious lumps earlier, becoming her See Something, Do Something campaign. Read all about THAT here.)

Noticing the need for self care

To keep life manageable, I work out almost daily. More surprisingly, I wake up early to exercise first thing in the morning on workdays. I never would have imagined that I could or would sacrifice sleep for exercise. I find it clears my mind and gets me focused. I often think of ideas for new lectures, posts on Facebook, articles and even treatment options for tough cases.

Keeping her eyes on the prize

I'm pretty terrified to fly. Fifteen years ago I used to clutch Kerry's arm or the chair if I was flying alone during takeoff. But I never not flew because of my fear. I had places to go, literally. Still I did make myself pretty sick, stressed and anxious. Now I am speaking at conferences and traveling a lot more. The joy from speaking and teaching outweighs my fear. So I have gotten much better. I also realized I was wasting a lot of energy on something I could not change. So I worry less and try to enjoy the ride. A philosophy I try to carry over into my everyday life.