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Carolyn Reed

Carolyn Reed

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September 22, 2014
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January 29, 2013
Dear Dr. Reed's family, I just found out that Dr Reed had passed away. I just saw her this summer in the Chicago airport. I worked as an RN in the Cardiothoracic ICU and OR and scrubbed for her in the mid 90's. She was a wonderful surgeon with a passion for her patients that is rarely seen today. I am very lucky and blessed to have known and respected Dr. Reed.
January 22, 2013
Our family just learned of Dr. Reed's death and want to extend our sincere sympathy. My mother in law is alive today due to her excellent care. She was and excellent surgeon, physician, and person and we are very saddened by her death.

Our hearts go out to the family.

We are blessed to have known her!
January 15, 2013
Dear Family of Dr. Reed,
I am a former patient of Dr. Reed and owe my life to her. I saw her for regular visits for 5 years after my surgery for lung cancer in 1999 and was almost sorry to be discharged from her care as it was always so much fun and so special to see her. I am still in shock, having just learned of her passing today but wanted to add my name to the list of people grateful to have been in her care.
January 14, 2013
She saved my life. These words are the finest of all tributes. A wonderful woman who made a huge impact on the world. May she rest in peace.
January 13, 2013
It is so hard to find the words to describe the sadness we feel of this news. Dr. Reed performed an esophagectomy on my husband August 30 when just two months before we were told that surgery would not be an option. On Sept 4 she came to his room and personally pushed his wheelchair to X-ray for his swallow test. I was amazed when he returned and she was still pushing him. i thought for sure she would leave him at X-ray once she viewed his results but she didn't. I remember her walking in saying, "Mr. Nemeth I have good news, the results of your biopsy came back and there are no residual cancer cells." When my husband responded with "is that good" we both starting laughing and said "that's very good!!" When he smiled, Dr. reed punched my arm while saying "now we got a smile out of him." I rubbed my arm and thought "wow, you can tell she works with her hands, she packs a pretty mean punch" ;). I took a picture that day of the the most wonderful, caring, skilled, talented and compassionate surgeon I have ever known. I am so glad I was able to tell her that she will always be our Hero. We are so sad she will not be leading us through the next portion of our journey as only she could do. R.I.P Dr. Reed, Charleston will not be the same without you! You are loved and missed tremendously. Our family will carry your memory in our hearts forever as you are truly our HERO!
January 12, 2013
Thank you Dr. Reves for sharing your personal recollections. I met Dr. Reed in June 2012. She performed my surgery on Aug. 16th, I sept 5 days in hospital and the follow-up visit was on Sept 2nd. I experinced her sense of humor, caring and surgical skill. I am grateful to be alive and now to know more about her as a person. annette reynolds
January 10, 2013
Much has been said about Carolyn Reed since she died, even before she died when she was fighting a disease she knew so well, cancer.

Because so much has been said and written, these remarks will be personal, not biographical and hopefully not too long.

I remember first meeting Carolyn on my arrival here because Senator Hollings and Fred Crawford had said I needed to get to know her. As leader of the Cancer Center she had inherited what many termed a “mess,” but like the excellent surgeon that she was she was determined to fix it.

We would meet weekly and each time I would say: “what can I do to help?” and she would usually say: “I got it under control” and give me that famous very toothy smile that just made everyone smile.

As time went on, it was clear that Carolyn had 2 passions and those 2 passions were in a clear order: 1) her patients and 2) her cancer center.

There was nothing she would not do for either. Many a night she would be at the bedside in the ICU caring for her freshly operated patients – this after spending many hours during the day standing at the operating table with the very same patient. She reminded me of another pioneering surgeon, John Kirklin at Birmingham, whose patients' immediate postoperative care was frequently overseen personally by him, as Carolyn would do.

Her patients were aware of her long hours and devotion and many told her, and many more have written their thanks for all of us to read on her obituary page on the internet – some will bring you to tears and all will inform you of the love and devotion she earned from her patients.

I only remember one patient that she seemed powerless to comfort or cure and that was herself. When I visited her last in the ICU at ART she said: “you know the prognosis,” and I was at a loss for words – I felt totally inadequate in finding the right thing to say to this person who had done so much, for so long for all her many patients.
It seemed a cruel irony that after helping so many overcome cancer she succumbed to the disease herself at too early an age. She had helped so many survive, but we could not match the feat.

Her second passion was the Hollings Cancer Center, and make no mistake she was a great leader and did so much for the center organizationally and administratively – that is why many of you are here. And she did this while maintaining a full surgical schedule and also teaching the thoracic residents. She served as an incredible role model for our students – most of whom had never seen a female surgeon.

In one of our weekly meetings in 2004, we were discussing the strategy to get National Cancer Institute designation. This had been a goal for the Hollings since it was created years earlier, but we had not gotten very far until Carolyn assumed the role of director. However, on this fateful day in our conversation she said: “you know hardly any NCI cancer centers are directed by a surgeon – Hollings needs a medical oncologist to be the director.”





She clearly had thought long and hard about this and said that our best chance to get designation would be with an oncologist at the head of Hollings, so she gracefully and unselfishly explained she wanted to serve only until her replacement could be recruited – someone who was a medical oncologist.

Carolyn stepped aside so that Andrew Kraft could come, and with her help and a lot of others – we got HCC designated by the NCI.

This was Carolyn Reed – not about herself, but about her patients and her desire for this center to reach goals that she felt only possible with different leadership. Few people are as selfless yet accomplished as Carolyn Reed was.

In closing I will quote William Faulkner - selectively modifying the pronouns he used – making “he” a “she” in places (I believe Faulkner would approve, and he would also approve his words written about poets being used for a physician like Carolyn Reed). These words are especially germaine as we immortalize Carolyn with the naming of the Hollings Cancer Center floor in her honor. Quoting Faulkner:



“I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. She is immortal, not because she alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because she has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance… It is her privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of her past.”
William Faulkner to the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1950
January 09, 2013
Doctor Reed has always been respected and admired for her dedication to her patients. She will also be remembered by her residents, students, nurses and colleagues as an outstanding teacher and exceptional role model. The state of South Carolina has been truly blessed by the 27 years Carolyn gave her heart and soul to MUSC.
To her friends, she was a great gal and enjoyed having fun (unless she was preoccupied—worrying about patients, publications or general university issues, which was often the case). Dr. Reed often gathered groups around her dining room table, all nicely set and diplaying one of her favorites: Nambe. She had a “secret marinade sauce” for her grilled steaks that everyone begged for, but she enjoyed her reputation for the best steaks ever! Only the finest of her red wine collection would be served with her dinners, and she loved sharing stories of the patients who had given her the wine as a thank you. Many people knew Dr. Reed's appreciation for only the best when it involved red wine.
Her favorite spot to relax (or to read journal articles, which was more often the case) was poolside at her home. She had a favorite lounge chair and tried to be there every sunny Saturday & Sunday. No sunscreen for Carolyn—she enjoyed basking in the sunshine and the resulting deep suntan.
Her home in the Crescent subdivision overlooked the lake, and her screened in porch was another favorite place…UNTIL THE DUCKS ARRIVED! Her friends laughed about these neighborhood “drop ins” but oh! how she hated them. Her “big heart” stopped young neighborhood boys to take care of the problem with their beebee guns, however.
Carolyn loved her home state, Maine. Every summer, her goal was to spend time at “the camp” on her favorite lake with her family visiting, especially her twin sister, Joyce and her family. She said she read her “beach reading” novels, but everyone wondered if she really left all of her medical journals behind in Charleston. Carolyn would smile widely and proudly refer to relaxing while reading her “trashy novels”. Her books were far from “trashy”—only the brightest authors and well-written novels for this lady.
Carolyn proudly brought Maine customs to Charleston. Her favorite Christmas gift to friends was a huge jug of real Maine Maple Syrup. She often bragged that she kept Maine syrup in business because she ordered so much! Many of our families enjoyed “the real thing” for the whole year…and lo' and behold, the next December came and then came another jug?. Our refrigerators won't be the same now, without the delicious reminder of our dear friend.
Another Maine custom Carolyn enjoyed was eating lobsters. Many MUSC “old timers” recall her Lobster Party at the Isle of Palms. That was quite an undertaking! Thank goodness for the able assistance of Dr. Kratz and Dr. Crawford to get those lobsters thoroughly cooked. Meanwhile, Carolyn was enjoying being the “perfect hostess”, while the guys did the hard work.
Dr. Reed was a lot of fun! She enjoyed being the life of the party! We often pulled practical jokes on her, and she was always “a good sport”. Her quick wit carried the fun farther along, and many laughs were shared, sitting around her dining room table of which she was very proud. How did we know this? Ask anyone who dined with her—not one scratch or water glass could touch the table's surface or she would (usually kindly) let you know TO BE CAREFUL! No one ever forgot again; that's for sure!
We had a surprise party for Dr. Reed's 40th birthday, and the group gave her a bicycle. What did she do? Hopped right on it and road it around and around the dining room table telling jokes. She loved being the “center of attention”. (This was just a “practice round” for being the Queen Bee of Southern Thoracic Surgery Association 17 years later). She especially joked about being the only gal in the division and having to constantly put up with “those guys”. She might have fussed a lot, but reality was that she had a unique relationship with each and every one of them. Her presence is missed terribly by “those guys”, and always will be.
She had other interests, although her commitment to her work always came first. We tried to plan dinner parties around her call schedule because her patients were her #1 priority. Many a dinner was interrupted by her pager. Everyone understood why she had to go.
Carolyn loved her black ebony Grand Steinway Piano—that was her “splurge” a few years ago. She played beautifully, naturally, at ease…and enjoyed being “begged to play”. She was usually fairly easily persuaded.
Anyone who has been in the Department of Surgery since the late 1980's will remember Dr. & Mrs. Fred Crawford's annual Thoracic Surgery Christmas parties. By 10 pm, the crowd was gathered around the piano, singing with Dr. Reed playing Christmas carols. This “performance” became the Christmas event everyone looked forward to, and guests often stayed late, just to “sing along with Carolyn”. She was quite an accomplished pianist, and she loved all of the fun and frolic of the holidays. Her finale was always The Twelve Days of Christmas, played as loudly and fast as she could. Dr. Sade & Dr. Crumbley thought they could “carry a tune” but every year, Dr. Reed enjoyed “setting them straight”…AND THAT, SHE DID!
She thoroughly enjoyed eating M&Ms—in fact, she was known for this passion. She had quite a few “M&M men” (i.e. stuffed toys or candy dispensers). She especially enjoyed those given to her by her patients. Another practical joke we recall from 12+ years ago was the kidnapping of her M&M man. We never were 100% sure who was responsible but photos were taken of M&M man all over Charleston, with ransom notes for Dr. Reed. She played right along, and we all laughed for weeks over this escapade.
QUEEN BEE!!! And that she was! Our very own! Dr. Reed earned the title because she was the first female to be elected President of the Southern Thoracic Surgery Association in 2007. Her biggest smiles were when anyone referred to her as “Queen Bee”. Her presidential address was outstanding and, as she ended, the membership gave her a very long standing ovation.
She was so proud of her niece, Lisa, in Maine, and they shared a very close relationship. When Lisa's twin girls were born, “Auntie Carolyn” was thrilled beyond words. She had fun selecting outfits and toys for Emily and Anna, and she loved to brag on them.
Carolyn never married. We always said that she “was married to her work.” That's what she loved! She led a full life with her incredible accomplishments. She had very close relationships with colleagues, nurses and almost everyone she worked with at MUSC. Her REAL family was close to her heart, even though they all lived in Maine. Her mother, Margaret, was “her inspiration” (a quote from Carolyn). Her mom worked as a nurse and made it possible for Carolyn to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Her dad a professor at the University of Maine, but he passed away when Carolyn was in college. Losing her father to cancer probably solidified her decision to enter the profession of healing. Her best friend was her twin sister, Joyce. Despite the long distance, Joyce and her husband, Allen, were at Carolyn's bedside for the majority of her 2 months hospitalization; this was such a comfort to her.
December 21, 2012
Every minute, every second that passes by I miss u more. If you said it once, you said it 1000 times... "the heart is just an organ that pumps blood to the esophagus." They say that you can't take anything with you when you go to heaven... I used to believe that until November 16. That fateful moment you ( My Superman/ My Captain) beat the odds yet again ... because you did not leave this world empty-handed... you left with my heart in your hands. I love you so much forever and always. - "Your Kiddo"
December 20, 2012
God bless. Such a wonderful person and a skilled doctor.

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Dr. Reed, our hero!!! She saved my husband and my fathers lives. I am a nurse and I have NEVER met a more caring and compassionate person in my life.
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