2017 Ulrich Henschke Award Winner
Juanita M. Crook, MD, FRCPC
Dr Crook completed her training in Radiation Oncology at the Princess Margaret Hospital in 1985. Brachytherapy was not a big part of Radiotherapy training programs in the 1980's; in fact, apart from gynecologic sites, it was almost non-existent. Following her Canadian Royal College Exams, she sought to diversify her training with a Fellowship and believed that a European experience, particularly one in France, would offer a different spectrum of techniques and approaches. Six months with Professor Jean Claude Horiot in Dijon, and 6 months with Professor Bernard Pierquin in Creteil determined the path of the rest of her career. Brachytherapy was integral to the treatment of many tumour sites in France, not just cervical and endometrial cancer, but also head and neck sites including oral tongue, base of tongue, and floor of mouth. She visited Mme Monique Pernot and learned her technique for tonsil and soft palate brachytherapy, and Professor Jean Papillon for his expertise in anal canal treatment. She saw her first penile brachytherapy and breast brachytherapy. She was bitten with the brachy bug and determined to bring these techniques home with her.
She returned to Canada to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Center, which luckily had its own Special Procedures Unit, perfect for a Brachytherapy Suite. With the support of a keen physics staff led by Dr. Joanna Cygler, programs were commenced in head and neck, skin, and penile brachytherapy, all using manually afterloaded Iridium wire. This was a good start but prostate cancer was on the rise due to screening, and it was time to develop a brachytherapy program for prostate cancer.
So she moved to Toronto in 1998 to start an LDR Prostate Brachytherapy program at her old alma mater, Princess Margaret Hospital. Mentored from Seattle by Drs John Blasko, Peter Grimm and John Sylvester, the program took off. Her focus was on Quality Assurance and teaching, but 10 years and 1000 implants later, it was time to branch out again. She left her Professorship at University of Toronto and moved to British Columbia.
Now a Professor at UBC and practicing in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, she is again blessed with keen and supportive physicists. With their help, Kelowna now has wide ranging programs in both LDR and HDR brachytherapy. Mentoring and quality remain her foremost goals. Teaching Fellows, ABS Scholars, ABS Workshops and Schools all compete with her time in the OR, which is of course the reason the rest exists! Along the way she attracted the attention of the ABS, serving for 6 years on the Board of Directors, culminating in her Presidency in 2011, and receiving the Thom Shanahan Distinguished Brachytherapy Educator Award in 2015.
On the personal level, she is very proud of her 2 children, Martin, an engineering physicist, and Eleanor who is studying Clinical Psychology. With her husband Dr Robert MacMillan, she enjoys running, road biking, cycle touring, cross country skiing, canoe tripping and hiking, and occasionally she finds time to paint.