“Cancer is the time to be selfish,” says Dr. Erin Stevens ’00. “It’s the time to live in the moment — to recognize how precious things are, to do those things and not put them off. My patients who understand that, and live by that, I love watching them live their lives.”
Stevens, a gynecologic oncologist at the Billings Clinic in Montana, is one of only roughly 1,000 practicing gynecologic oncologists — physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating cancers that are located on a woman's reproductive organs — in the country. The Billings Clinic is the only hospital with this specialty full time in all of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and half of South Dakota and Idaho. Some patients drive over eight hours for her care.
“What I love about gynecologic oncology is caring for a woman through the course of her cancer,” says Stevens. “I’m the person she sees when she’s diagnosed, the one who’s in the operating room with her and who’s going to give her chemo. I’m the person who follows her in remission until we say she’s cured, or follows her through the course of her life until she dies of cancer. That’s me. To have the patients and families trust me so much — that relationship is amazing. It’s an honor and privilege to do what I do.”
Stevens studied psychology at Ithaca College before heading to New York Medical College. A track and field standout, she held the school records for shot put and 20-pound weight throw. “Coach Jim Nichols was a huge positive influence on my college career and my life,” says Stevens. “He really made sure you followed your passion. Ithaca College and the town of Ithaca made me into the person I am today. I learned so much from the open-minded community.”