Dr. Pamela Casson, MGA Medical Director at Colorado Springs, believes in happy endings. “With kids, there is always hope,” she says. And this is just one of the reasons she went into pediatric medicine in the first place.
Dr. Casson wanted to be a doctor since she was five years old. “I was always into medicine,” she says. “I learned CPR when I was too young to technically take the course at the time. All my friends had all kinds of hobbies. I was just into medicine,” she recalls. She thinks her passion for medicine was sparked by her father’s career.
“My father was a tropical medicine disease specialist,” she explains. “He researched diseases like malaria and cholera.” Dr. Casson continues to say her father was a Navy research physician and it’s very clear that he influenced her journey in medicine.
Following a Path of Happy Endings
Her career path to pediatric medicine was not direct, however. She fell in love with the space program and did get an ROTC scholarship to Princeton for her undergraduate degree. “I was thinking I would be a mission specialist,“ she explains. She feels God had other plans for her. “It just didn’t seem like the right fit,” she says of that time in her life. “I always had a love for kids. I babysat and was a camp counselor,” she recounts.
When it was time for her to decide what her specialty would be when she was at med school, pediatrics was immediately in contention. “Kids are wonderful and fun. And, they tend to have happy endings. I am a happy ending person,” she explains.
“When people are told their child is ill, they should know that for kids, there is always hope,” she says. She had a friend early in her career who gave birth to a daughter. Dr. Casson agreed to be her pediatrician. She explains this was especially poignant for her because she was friends with the family. “When the child was two years old, she developed a brain tumor,” she remembers. “I saw her go through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. I even saw her get better, and then relapse,” she says.
And through it all, she walked beside the family for some of the hard parts of the illness. “At the time, I was still in training, and I watched a struggle in progress,” she explains. “I saw the family’s faith in God and perseverance. That is what got them through,” she remembers. “Despite all the ups and downs, they showed me that it’s worth fighting for the happy endings,” she says. “Patients were, and are to this day, some of my greatest teachers!”
“That child is now around the age of 25 working with Give Kids the World which is a nonprofit resort in Florida where kids with critical illnesses, along with their families, are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations,” she says. “That was indeed a happy ending.”
Although there are tough times and not every story is a happy one, she says that a positive attitude is extremely helpful. “When my father fell ill and I advocated for him, a doctor asked me why I was looking into ways to help him. The doctor told me that he would likely not last through the year anyway.” Despite the physician’s prediction, her father lived for another three years after that.
Being an Advocate
Dr. Casson says that a doctor should be willing to fight for you and make sure you are getting the best medicine possible. “Your doctor should know the limits of their knowledge. And if they don’t know something, they need find out and keep asking questions until they get to the person who knows and goes to the cutting edge of science for you,” she explains. “That’s the type of doctor you need.”
As Medical Director at MGA, Colorado Springs, Dr. Casson helps define the medical vision and works to help MGA consistently improve. “MGA is comprised of passionate people who care about their patients,” she says. “They operate like a well-oiled machine. Everyone has a part to play and it works. Everything comes together because they are doing it for the right reason and care about the kids,” she explains.
So, believe in happy endings. Have hope. And when times get tough, take each day one at a time. Above all, have people in your corner who will fight for you. They are there. And as Dr. Casson believes, it shouldn’t be hard to find them.
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