This week I had the opportunity to sit down and interview an 85 year old woman, the wife of the late surgical oncologist Dr. LeRoy Groshong, MD. You likely know his medical invention the Groshong catheter (a tunneled catheter used for oncology patients). In talking to his wife, Bonny Groshong, she said he invented the catheter because he wanted to improve the quality of life of cancer patients so that they didn’t always have to go to the hospital to receive chemotherapy treatments. Making a difference was really important to both her and her husband.
I spoke to her about her early years growing up on a North Dakota cattle and wheat farm where she would gather around the radio in her dining room with her family to listen to the news. The radio and the weekly newspaper were her only connection to the outside world. She recalled watching television as a young girl and for the first time seeing faces from around the world and beyond her small rural town. She married at 19 years old and became a mother at 20. But because her first husband left the picture she was a single mom and had to make a career for herself with just one year of college under her belt. She did so by figuring out how she could help other people. She got involved in the non-profit world and worked her way up the ranks of the American Cancer Society (where she met her second husband Dr. Groshong) as a fundraiser. He was a rather quiet and shy man, she said, and she was his partner in helping connect him to the right people who would help make his invention a success. She remarked how it was definitely a man’s world and hard for women to come up through the ranks.
The reason I did this interview with Mrs. Groshong was an assignment for a leadership course I am a part of in which the instructor spoke about how the 21st Century is the Century of Women. Women have $20 trillion global spending power, $13 trillion annual earnings and hold 60% of personal wealth. Women in the labor force is rising while men’s employment rate is decreasing. Forty percent of women out earn their husbands and 20% of families have stay at home dads. The instructor went on to say that the marketplace and the workplace must play to the strengths of women. Furthermore we need to learn to lead an ethnically diverse as well as a generationally diverse workforce.
As I sit back to look at the bigger picture of our history as women, the 20th Century was a time where women like Mrs. Groshong and like my mom, a now retired solo family physician who practiced medicine for 35 years, made strides for us women so that we may enter the workplace in all different industries from non-profits to medicine. They paved the road for us women and now we have been handed the torch to not only continue that climb but to be the leaders.
As Senator Kamala Harris is about to be sworn in as the first female Vice President of the United States this week, Sister Docs, I truly believe this is our century. Our country and the world needs women in all levels of leadership and to bring our feminine strengths to it. We are naturally consensus builders and team players and also ones to carefully consider the best interests of all involved. As Mrs.Groshong shared what was always most important to her was making a difference and connecting with people and I think for us women this is something that is inherent to us and always at the forefront of our minds as well. So, ladies, I encourage you to go out there and make a difference in your own way knowing the future is female.
To Uplifting One Another,
Women in White Coats
Archana Shrestha, MD is a physician, life coach, speaker and entrepreneur in Chicago. She is the Cofounder of Women in White Coats and a coauthor of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” book series. Learn more about her by going to MightyMomMD.com . She can be followed on Instagram @MightyMomMD