In the darkest times of your life, when you are down without any visible signs of ever getting back up, Dr. Virginia Herrmann is the buoy to which you can cling. She’s no miracle worker. No one is. But she is pretty close.
“When you are dealing with breast problems, it becomes so overwhelming for the patient. You are invited into a part of their life that is very intimate. They are very vulnerable, it’s the worst time in their life for the moment, and so if you can be there with them and help them through that journey, it’s really a privilege. You’re sharing something with them that they don’t share with everybody. It’s a privilege to help see them through that,” she said. And she does.
She doesn’t stop caring for you the moment your results come up clear. She offers you a place in the survivor program, extending her care and practice to all patients that come through her doors.
“The people that we deal with are in such a difficult circumstance. When people have a breast problem or an abnormal mammogram or breast cancer, they are frightened, they are vulnerable, their world kind of stops. And especially down here in Hilton Head. Many people retire and they are here for everything that they have worked for and looked forward to, and then all of the sudden they are dealing with something that they would never dream would happen to them. It’s easy to talk to people like that.”
And, boy, is it. Within moments of meeting Herrmann, you find yourself pouring your soul into her lap, and she welcomes it. Tends to it, even. No matter the gender, or how old, or how capable a patient may be, she is there to help as much or as little as they may need. In a field where face-to-face time is cut short and personal care is all but a thing of the past, Herrmann stands out like a beacon of promise that, in the end, things will be as close to fine as possible. You leave her office with a better understanding of the disease and of yourself.
I really enjoy getting to know my patients. I don’t look at them just as patients; I look at them as friends. In the breast center, we think of ourselves as extended family.”
She goes on to note that in a community made up of new faces and recent imports, having a reliable support structure is essential to the healing process. And being there for patients is why Herrmann does what she does.
“When you are down here in Hilton Head and everybody is retired and golfing and playing tennis and everybody is doing all these wonderful things and enjoying life, one of the things about dealing with cancer in general is that you realize life is not perfect for everyone. Life in Hilton Head is not necessarily idyllic at all times for everyone. It’s nice to be able to say ‘we’re going to get you back there, we’re going to get your life back on track, and we’re going to see you through this.’ You can’t hear it at the time but if somebody is there and can see you through it, you get to a point where you can say ‘I’m better off; I’m stronger.’”
If you ever have to walk through Herrmann’s doors, fear not. It isn’t the worst place you can find yourself. Statistics alone are reason enough to keep some level of calm.
“We worked hard to achieve accreditation for the Breast Health Center at Hilton Head Hospital. The Breast Center is accredited though the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, sponsored by the American College of Surgeons, and is the only accredited breast center in Beaufort and Jasper counties. This accreditation assures we are providing care which meets the highest standards, and allows us the opportunity to offer women the very latest in breast cancer care, including clinical trials.”
It is her kindness, impeccable bedside manner, and honest disposition that make knowing Dr. Herrmann a privilege. It may be scary and things may seem like they will never be right again. But just listen to the doctor.
“I promise you, when you are at the end of this journey, you will be better off and life will be richer.”
Photo by Rob Kaufman