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Q&A with Dr Cindy Mak12 Jun 2018

Q&A with Dr Cindy Mak

What is your title?

Head of Department, Breast Surgery

What is the one thing you want most for the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse breast department?

A burning desire from all of our staff (surgeons, oncologists, nurses, etc) to involve our patients in research trials and data collection

What training have you completed?

I trained as a doctor at The University of Sydney, and then completed my surgical training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, in General Surgery. I became the Breast Fellow and Superintendent at Concord Hospital for 2 years, and then did a further year of fellowship at The Edinburgh Breast Unit, upskilling in oncoplastic breast surgery. I had planned on returning to Australia after that to take up a consultant position, but was offered a consultant job there, and stayed on a little longer.

My first job was…

A receptionist at an IT company!

To explain to people what I do I say…

I’m a breast surgeon who deals mostly in breast cancer work. I am a breast and reconstructive surgeon, psychologist, and a support service all rolled into one.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Giving patients bad news.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Developing relationships with my patients – I have the privilege of being involved in their lives long-term. I get to watch their children and grandchildren grow, learn about their latest life-dramas and share their happy experiences with them. The time I am happiest, though, is when I am operating – especially when I think I’ve done a particularly good operation!

How long have you been working at Lifehouse?

Since its inception. I was involved in the planning, watched it being built and now have the pleasure of operating and consulting within it.

What attracted you to working at Lifehouse?

The idea of a comprehensive cancer service is a very attractive one. All the multidisciplinary subspecialities are involved, the communication between us is better and our ability to implement research projects is more effective. State of the art theatres is also a major drawcard!

What would your superpower be and why?

Teleportation! Think of all the time I’d save.

If you weren’t a breast surgeon, what would you be?

An interior designer.

Morning or night person?

Morning definitely.

Coffee or tea?

I love both. If you held a gun to my head and made me choose I would take tea, because of the different varieties available and the ability to drink more of it in a day than I can coffee

Dogs or cats?

Cats – self-sufficient creatures.

Sweets or savouries?


What is your favourite movie and why?

Love Actually. So naff, but so much fun to watch each Christmas. I’ve a soft spot for Colin Firth too….

My biggest achievement so far…

Is marrying someone who allows me to work to the best of my ability and who loves and cares for our children beautifully.

To unwind at the end of the day I…

Read a book to the kids. It’s usually something to do with Star Wars or Marvel Superheroes – but it is still fun.