"Be strong,
powerful & confident"

Dr Cindy Mak - one of Australia's Leading Breast Cancer Surgeon

Dr Cindy Mak was the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s (Sydney) first female breast surgeon, now she is the Head of Breast Surgery at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and one of Australia’s leading breast surgeon. Cindy has been an invited speaker at national and international conferences on breast disease and has been featured on episodes of Channel Nine’s RPA program, and This Time Next Year. She regularly presents at community and GP information days. She sits on the board of The Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation.

We are incredibly honoured to have Dr Cindy Mak come onboard as our 2020 Ambassador for Breast Cancer Month in collaboration with Breast Cancer Network Australia. We were lucky enough to sit down with Dr Mak for a quick Q&A chat:

Q&A

1.    What is your title and what do you do?

Director of Breast Services and Head of Department (Breast Surgery), at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

2.    What education and training have you completed?

My medical degree at Sydney University, my fellowship of the Australasian College of Surgeons and an overseas breast surgery fellowship at the Edinburgh Breast Unit, UK.

3.    What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love building relationships with my patients. There is always something to learn from them. I have met so many remarkable people through this job. I also love the buzz I get from an operation that has gone smoothly.

4.    What have been you biggest achievement in your job?

Growing the breast surgery department at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse so that we are now the second largest unit for breast cancer in NSW, internationally recognised for the work we do with a 50/50 gender mix and a work place environment that is welcoming and full of positivity.

5. How did you feel being the first female breast surgeon at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital?

I was the first female Breast Surgeon at RPA. At the time I was appointed, it didn’t even occur to me that I was the first, I was so busy just caring for my patients and building a practice. Now I stop to think about it, it was a big deal, and in fact it was just the start of a major change in the surgical workforce in Australia where women were on the rise.

6. What attracted you to working at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse?

COBLH is a great institution to be working at – it’s progressive, patient-focused and forward-thinking. I love the “can-do” attitude that we have, everyone pulls together for the good of the patient.

7. What are your thoughts on women empowerment and what does it mean to you to be strong, powerful, confident?

I believe that women should have choice – that’s really what it means to be empowered. They should have the choice to work, to have families, to rise to the pinnacle of their professions, or to elect to prioritise lifestyle . Being strong, powerful and confident is something we should all feel about ourselves, regardless of how other people perceive us.

8. What is the legacy you want to leave in the world?

I would like to think that because of what I do, there is someone who will have spent some extra quality time with their partner, mother, aunt, daughter, grandmother or friend, who otherwise may not have been able to.

9. How do you feel being the face of Scrub Lab’s Breast Cancer Campaign and its collaboration with the Breast Cancer Network of Australia?

It’s wonderful to see the collaboration between Scrub Labs and the good work that the BCNA do for breast cancer. I’m delighted to be a part of it and hope that it highlights breast cancer awareness and raises much-needed funds for BCNA!

10. Any thoughts on the emerging trend of scrubs becoming the new normal beyond the operating theatre?

This is something that my American colleagues have been doing for years, and it does make a lot of sense, especially in the current COVID-19 climate. They are comfortable, hygienic and practical.

3. Have yourself or any of your colleagues been wearing scrubs for consultations?

Many of us have. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, it was all I wore for several months. I still wear them to consult about twice a week – I love waking in the morning and not having to think about what to wear. I especially like that Scrub Labs scrubs are tailored to be flattering. I want to feel good and look good as well.