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Nancy Peacock, MD is chosen one of Nashville Medical News’ 2013 Women to Watch

Nashville Medical News

It’s never a good idea to tell a determined woman she can’t do something.

Nancy Peacock knew she wanted a profession reflective of her vocation. “As corny as it sounds, I wanted to go to work every day knowing I would be of help to someone,” she said. With her love of science, medicine was the natural fit.

Her grandfather, a Missouri general practitioner who still made house calls, thought otherwise. “He told me medicine was too much work for a woman. That left me determined to prove him wrong!” Peacock said. She did … and undoubtedly he would have been extremely proud.

Peacock was drawn to her specialty on multiple fronts. “During medical school, the scientific advances in oncology were just starting to explode, and they intrigued me,” she recalled. Two of her favorite professors and mentors were also oncologists. “They were smart, compassionate and great teachers. I wanted to emulate that.” Watching the impact metastatic lung cancer had on her grandmother also solidified her choice. “I kept thinking, there has to be a better way to do this.”

It was also during med school at the University of Missouri – Columbia that she met her husband Mark, a pulmonary critical care specialist. After graduation, the couple headed to San Antonio for residency and fellowships. “We loved San Antonio, but it is a long way from our families. We wanted to get closer and wanted to stay in the South,” she said. Both really liked Nashville … and better yet, each had a job offer here.

Peacock joined Tennessee Oncology in 1995. While she cares for adults with all types of hematologic and solid malignancies, she is especially known for her work with lung, colon and breast cancer patients. “Being diagnosed with any kind of cancer is like having a bomb go off in your life … everything is turned upside down,” she said. “I think one of my most important roles … and really the role of all physicians … is to be a teacher for our patients and their families. As they grow to understand their illness and have a little better clarity of what the future holds, they begin to regain control of their lives and their emotions.”

What is most difficult, she continued, is watching people struggle without a safety-net … without family, friends or financial resources. “No one has a perfect life or family situation but to have a serious illness and inadequate backup resources is so hard on people,” she noted, adding Nashville is fortunate to have a number of non-profit organizations to help out.

In addition to supporting her patients, she also feels like it’s incumbent upon women in medicine to support each other. “We’re all struggling to balance practice, family and outside interests,” she said. When she first arrived in Nashville, Peacock recalled walking into the physician’s lounge to be the only woman in a room filled with men discussing SEC football. Time certainly has a way of changing things. Today, female physicians are plentiful, and Missouri is in the SEC … a fact that still leaves Peacock shaking her head.

She is equally passionate about her family, friends and faith. She and Mark are parents to Sarah, a senior at Sewanee, and Matt, a freshman at Boston College. An active volunteer, she serves on the Forest Hills United Methodist Church Council and the Board of Trustees for her undergraduate alma mater Central Methodist University. In her rare free time, Peacock loves to escape with Broadway musicals — “the flashier and cheesier, the better!” she proclaimed.

Her patients and rich family life have only served to reaffirm her favorite piece of advice. “Spend as much time as you can with people you love,” she said. “None of us is guaranteed one day more on this earth. People grow and change, move and die, so those minutes really need to count when you have them.”