Internist Takes Team on a Run to Fight Cancer

Christine Meyer, MD, started her practice in 2004 because she knew there had to be a better way to provide good, quality care to patients. Not only do her patients love her, but her staff has embraced Meyer's way of practicing.

For Christine Meyer, MD, becoming a physician wasn’t necessarily a matter of choice — it was more like destiny.

As an adolescent, Meyer watched two aunts work their way through medical school; one of whom became her inspiration.

“I spent basically my whole life watching her train, work, go through the ups and downs,” Meyer recalls. “The earliest memory I have is holding a bone she was studying while she was in school, and just knowing that some day I was going to do that. I was like four-years old. So it was always what I was going to do. There was never a question.”

It’s the same, unwavering mindset with which Meyer, a board certified internist, has approached her career.

Something better

Meyer opened her own private internal medicine practice in December 2004, leaving behind a method of practicing medicine that she says was making her hate her job. The practice was run by four “old school doctors” whose philosophy on medicine was “do what I say,” with no further conversation. That wasn’t working for Meyer.

“I knew there was a better way; there had to be a better way to give patients good, quality medical care than what they were receiving,” Meyer says. “On a very personal level, it felt like I was not being the doctor I knew I could be. I don’t know that anybody was calling it patient-centered back then, but clearly that’s what it was.”

Almost immediately Meyer set up a Facebook page for the practice. A writing enthusiast, she also began blogging, writing personal stories about the trials and tribulations she experienced every day not so much as a physician, but as a person. The patient feedback, for the most part, was overwhelmingly positive.

“There are some patients who feel a doctor’s position should be very professional; very starched white coat, in a metaphorical sense,” Meyer explains. “They don’t want their doctor on Facebook. They just want their doctor to be their doctor, period. But by and large, being real, it opens a door for patients. And I think it makes me a very effective physician because I can relate to their problems, and they can relate to my advice. And they know it comes from my very real living experience, not just my medical degree.”

Running for a cause

When Meyer re-branded her practice late in 2012, she designed a practice logo of CMMD, for Christine Meyer, MD. Not only did the logo begin appearing on signs and office stationery, but also Meyer’s staff began referring to her by the acronym. They even showed up at work one day wearing temporary tattoos reading CMMD somewhere on their bodies.

The letters took on even greater significance when Meyer formed Team CMMD, a charity team for the American Cancer Society, on Jan. 1, 2013. She calls it a New Year’s Day revolution, and it came about because her aunt, her inspiration life, had been diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.

From the original six members, all part of her practice staff who were runners, Team CMMD quickly grew to 47 runners. They participated in the recent Blue Cross Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, the largest 10-mile race in the country, and raised more than $52,000.

But the impact of Team CMMD and Meyer’s efforts go far beyond the dollars raised.

“I had countless people from my team tell me that when this all came about, they were in a really bad place … much like I was,” Meyer says. “If I was ever depressed in my life, it was when my aunt got sick. And this, the positivity of this, exercising regularly, being around a group of people with a common goal, doing something good, watching the money flood in because of story after story — all of these things lifted up the people on this team who were in a really bad place.

“Raising all this money for the American Cancer Society is one thing. But these relationships that have been forged from complete strangers is just the most incredible thing.”

If you build it

If Meyer wasn’t busy enough, she and her husband, a pediatrician, officially became owners of a new building on March 23, and by July it will house their respective practices.

Of course, with ownership come headaches, like learning it will cost several hundred collars to retain the practice’s phone number after the move, but Meyer deals with it and moves on. There are more important things. Her favorite things.

“My two favorite things in the world are cooking and traveling,” Meyer admits. “So wherever there’s good food and an awesome place to visit, you’ll pretty much catch me there every chance I get. And that’s my ultimate goal some day, is to just travel around the world, and eat my way through it, basically.”

As with medicine, Meyer’s love of cooking good food is also family-based. Her parents are both Egyptian, both born and raised in Cairo, and her entire family was first-generation immigrants. Food, she says, is a huge part of that culture.

“There was never a simple meal,” she recalls. “You never just had a sandwich. Every meal was multiple courses. That’s how you expressed your love and happiness for everyone. And my aunt is an amazing cook. She would work as a doctor, then come home and cook. So I definitely think I got that from her too.”

A positive influence

Reflecting on her career, Meyer says it really hasn’t been about saving lives.

“I don’t really know that I ever do that,” she says. “I think I just get people to the next step, and someone else saves their lives.”

More so, Meyer focuses on lots of little things — on the many positive influences she’s been able to have on people. Influences like getting them to exercise, teaching them about their disease process or helping them get through a difficult personal time.

“There are little bits of positivity that I think I bring to many people in the course of a day,” Meyer says. “That’s hugely rewarding.”