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Women's History Month - Passing of the Torch!

 

Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate and earn a medical degree in the United States in 1849, once said, "It is not easy to be a pioneer, but it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world." Dr. Lynne Lyons, my mother, followed in her footsteps, graduating from medical school one hundred forty-six years later. Born in Southfield, Michigan, she was the youngest of four children, with three older brothers. She was a vibrant student in high school, participating in sports, clubs, and extracurricular activities and even serving as the school's yearbook editor. Her journey in the medical field was unique and inspiring, and I am excited to share more about it.

 

Middle Years

Dr. Lyons' journey into medicine was not just a career choice but a path influenced by personal experiences. Like Dr. Blackwell, she lost her father during her teenage years, a time when she felt powerless. Despite the circumstances, her father's upbeat and fun attitude left a lasting impression on her. This, coupled with her natural inclination to help people during crises, led her to change her major to medicine at the University of Michigan. Her grandfather, James P. McConkie, M.D., a physician in Oakland County, also played a significant role in inspiring her. Dr. Lyons would graduate from U of M in three and a half years and get accepted into Wayne State School of Medicine. After medical school, she attended the University of Michigan psychiatry residency program. In her fourth and final year there, she had my older sister Jamie. The program allowed her to do a reduced schedule and still made her chief resident, which was all very progressive for the time.

 

After graduation, Dr. Lyons embarked on a fulfilling career as a Board-Certified Psychiatrist, working for Rose Hill Center and another outpatient practice. She managed to balance her professional life with her greatest joy: motherhood. Unlike Dr. Blackwell, who found the early years of her practice in New York to be lonely and challenging, Dr. Lyons navigated the demands of both roles. This is a testament to the progress made in women's professional lives, as working mothers like Dr. Lyons no longer have to choose between their careers and motherhood. They can find a way to excel in both. 

 

Dr. Lyons established the Lakes Center Mental Health Network ten years ago. She pioneered the first standalone SPRAVATO® treatment center in the United States during that time. It is now the number one clinic and the gold standard SPRAVATO clinic. While Dr. Lyons was growing her private practice, she had the support of her mother, Marilyn, who helped with me and my three sisters, Jamie, Rebecca, and Max. 


Passing the Torch

Many of you know Dr. Lyons in her official capacity as a psychiatrist, medical director, coworker, mentor, business owner, and philanthropist. My sisters and I would like to share her impact on us as our mother.


My first job was working with my mother at Lakes Depression Center. I have never met a more determined, yet kind and generous person than my mom. I have watched her help her clients and support the local community with the same care and passion she has for her immediate family. She inspires many people, especially young women, to pursue their dreams of becoming psychiatrists. My mother has inspired me to start my own business, K Craftverse and I am active in the outreach and awareness campaigns that Lakes Center Mental Health Network supports.


My older sister Jamie stated, “I cannot say how much I love and appreciate my mom. My mom has been my inspiration, superhero, best friend, and guide throughout my life. Her love for her family and community is contagious, and she goes above and beyond to ensure everyone is cared for. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to have been raised by such an exceptional woman. She has shaped me into the person I am today, and I am extremely grateful for her unconditional love and support.”


My sister Rebecca said, “My mom is an incredible woman with the kindest and most accepting heart of anyone I’ve ever met. She’s understood every struggle and hardship I’ve gone through and always gave me optimism for my future. She’s amazing!”


Our youngest sister, Max, told me, “My mom is one of the most inspirational people in my life. She always jokes she is my # 1 fan, but throughout my life, she has proven that she really is, every single day. She gives the opportunities to friends, family, and random strangers she happens to meet and change their lives completely in the best ways possible. If I forget something at home I needed at school, she will be right there to drop it off. She wakes up every day with me and makes me breakfast before school, even if she went to bed at 2 am. As a high schooler in my senior year, I have to overcome many new obstacles and problems. And no matter what, she is there rooting me on the whole time. I have never been more grateful for anything in my entire life than having her as my mother. I hope I can one day follow in her shadow and be as amazing as her.”

 

We should celebrate Women's History Month by highlighting the trailblazers who have come before and inspiring the next generation of women to challenge the status quo. My mother became the first female Medical Doctor in her family. She overcame setbacks, obstacles, losses, and tragedies. While giving so much time to public service, she instilled so much in me and my sisters, who will continue her legacy and pass on the torch. Women worldwide are the foundations of families, essential to expanding and improving communities. A physician’s historical responsibilities have included patient data collection, disease treatment, healing and care, and integrating humanism and science for the patient's good. Nonetheless, women have been marginalized and discriminated against for generations, kept in the background. Let's take this moment to acknowledge women such as Dr. Blackwell and my mother, Dr. Lyons, this month for being pioneers, leaders, role models, and inspirations for generations to come. 


 

Kathryn Lyons

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