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228: Interview with practice owner, dentist & breast cancer survivor, Dr. Laurene Duke


This week’s episode features Dr. Laurene Duke who joins Dr. Grace Yum to share her experience as a practice owner and cancer patient.  Episode 228 is available for download now on all of the top podcast platforms or listen now by clicking the player above!

Episode highlights:

-Dr. Laurene Duke shares the story of her breast cancer diagnosis and what she was thinking and feeling immediately following her diagnosis
-Discussion about what steps Dr. Duke took to create her plan after diagnosis
-Discover the lovely ways Dr. Duke celebrated her breasts before her surgery and how it helped impact her reflection of that time in her life
-Dr. Laurene Duke shares what her participation in her dental practice looked like immediately following her surgery and throughout the year as she was healing

Meet this week’s guest:

Dr. Laurene Duke has been happily practicing dentistry for over 30 years. She was first introduced to dentistry as a 5-year old patient in Dr. Beckman’s practice, with a full garden in the backyard visible from every operatory. While attending Long Beach State University, Dr. Beckman introduced her to his daughter who was attending UCLA dental school. This was the first time Dr. Duke learned that women can really be doctors! During her dental school interviews Dr. Duke was told by the USC interviewer that she shouldn’t attend dental school, that she would be taking the place of a man and she’d practice for a couple years before having babies and staying home. This was 1979; USC was the firstacceptance letter she received and the first one she, very nervously, declined.
After graduating UCLA dental school in 1984 she practiced in different clinics and practices, learning the type of dentistry she didn’t want to perform and honing her skills to practice dentistry how she wanted. All through school and the beginning of her career she kept in close contact with Dr. Beckman and started working as his associate in the years after graduating. While in school she married an engineer, Scott, and they became parents in 1985 followed by a second in 1987. In 1989, while very pregnant with her third child, Dr. Beckman casually asked her if she wanted to buy his practice. It was probably the easiest practice sale in history. Dr. Beckman stayed on for a few years, as her associate, seeing patients so Dr. Duke could be a mom to three small children and see patients 1-2 days a week. One of the best things Dr. Beckman told her was to “work hard and enjoy what you do, but it is important to make time for family and life.” She has taken that through her entire career, always sure to make time to be a mom and LIVE. She has always taken time off for school and sport events with her children and family vacations, now averaging about 6-12 weeks a year out of the office. In 1994 the opportunity came for Dr. Duke to purchase the building, which she did and admits it was one of the best professional decisions she’s ever made. In 1999 she navigated her way through a terrible embezzlement and learned more about being a business owner. Dental school introduces students how to be clinicians, but nothing about how to actually practice and own a business.
In 2017 Dr. Duke was diagnosed with breast cancer. There was very little knowledge and resources to find out how to practice post-surgeries and during treatment. There was no timeline for coming back following a bilateral mastectomy. Dr. Duke and her small team figured out how best to do it for her practice and for her sanity. She learned more about how to help herself heal and how best to keep herself healthier, reading every journal and article she could find. She used HBOT and THOR laser religiously following her mastectomy which helped her heal quickly and well. Learning to re-use muscles, following both the mastectomy and then again after her final reconstruction surgery, was difficult and sometimes surprising when the simple act of using an instrument for a routine filling became more difficult. It was a journey that helped her become a healthier person and more understanding, educated doctor.
In her free time Dr. Duke enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, and spending time with her family- especially now that there are grandchildren.

Find us on Social Media: @MommyDentistsinBusinessMediaNetwork @DrLaureneDuke

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She is in a small pool of less than 5% of all dentists who become certified in pediatrics. She also founded and built Yummy Dental and Orthodontics for Kids into a leader in its category. In this Podcast, Dr. Yum shares pearls of wisdom based on her experience that are designed to help moms be successful in their medical careers and in their lives more broadly. She interviews a rotating cast of experts who give invaluable advice from a variety of perspectives: fashion stylists, lawyers, CEOs, nutritionists, skincare experts, parenting experts and more. Along the way, Dr. Yum shares the secrets to her success in balancing motherhood and her growing business interests in dental, real estate and beyond. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn Radio or iHeartRadio as well as follow MDIB on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get all the latest updates on future episodes!