Meet Dr. Sharyn N. Lewin, a Woman You Should Know who takes the concept of women helping women to a truly extraordinary level. As a board certified gynecological oncologist and surgeon, she cares for women with ovarian, endometrial, uterine, cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers.
Born in Kansas to New York parents, Sharyn moved to Manhattan’s NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in 2009, a few blocks away from where her grandmother, an OB GYN, practiced in the 40’s and 50’s.
As early as the second and third grades, her pioneering grandmother would tell Sharyn about how she emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1935 as a young physician. Once here, she opened a gynecology office in Washington Heights, NY. It was challenging, difficult, and exciting to be a woman doctor, helping women with birth control, and practicing at the Margaret Sanger Clinic when her male colleagues looked down on her and her medical care.
“I had never met such a kind, courageous, caring group of women, who maintained these attributes while battling cancer. I was driven to join their fight in the war against cancer. This is why I wanted to be a gynecologist.” How proud her grandmother would have been when Sharyn received the 2010 NYP/CUMC Physician of the Year award. In accepting the honor, she recounted how she followed her in grandmother’s footsteps in becoming a physician, an advocate for women’s health issues, and ironically in returning to where it all started in Washington Heights.
It was this influential and inspirational legacy, coupled with a phone call Sharyn received as a first year intern that set her on her ultimate career path. The call was from a patient, a woman with a gynecologic cancer. She shared that story when she received the annual Gilda’s Club It’s Always Something award in 2013 saying, “These incredible women really inspired me to the core. I had never met such a kind, courageous, caring group of women, who maintained these attributes while battling cancer. I was driven to join their fight in the war against cancer. This is why I wanted to be a gynecologist.”
Upon completing the prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship, Dr. Lewin was appointed Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at NYP/CUMC.
She is regarded as a national educator on Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC) and is an expert in the state-of-the-art treatment for advanced ovarian cancer. Dr. Lewin lectures nationally and internationally and has won numerous teaching and research awards, including the prestigious Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) President’s Award. She has authored dozens of articles and textbook chapters and is a board member of Gilda’s ClubNYC, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and TealWalk.
Sharyn is most proud of the Woman to Woman program she started in 2011 and medically directs at NYP/CUMC. Woman to Woman is the signature patient support program of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Women, their families and partners receive one-to-one emotional support by trained volunteers while undergoing treatment for gynecologic cancer.
Dr. Lewin recalls that when she was discussing her choice to pursue gyn oncology, her family spoke with a close friend with ovarian cancer. She told her family, “Please ask her what she thinks of her gynecologic oncologist.” As it turned out, that woman’s physician meant everything to her. In response, Sharyn said, “I want to be that person.”
And today she most certainly is.
Gynecological Cancers: What You Should Know
In this September 2012 video, Dr. Lewin talks about the warning signs of gynecological cancers, and how doctors diagnose and treat them.