Petals & Pearls: Keepsake book showcases WDS members' lives

September 23, 2010

Vignettes contributed by more than 160 Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) members for the society’s new coffee table book, Petals & Pearls, reveal words of wisdom, acts of courage, fun facts and much more.

National report - Vignettes contributed by more than 160 Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) members for the society’s new coffee table book, Petals & Pearls, reveal words of wisdom, acts of courage, fun facts and much more.

One might never know what some of the dermatologists featured have learned and experienced over their lifetimes, had it not been for Petals & Pearls, according to Rebecca Tung, M.D., who chaired the book’s task force.

Dr. Tung, of Chicago, writes about facing divorce while caring for her 18-month-old daughter and starting a Mohs surgery fellowship. Lenore S. Kakita, M.D., of Pasadena, Calif., shares the indignity of spending her toddler years interned at Amache Relocation Camp in Colorado, when the fear of “yellow peril” had gripped the United States during World War II.

Task force members absorbed in their sneak preview of “Petals & Pearls” at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 2010 Annual Meeting in Miami are (from left) Sig Bergfeld, book designer and creative director; task force chairman Becki Tung, M.D.; Patti Farris, M.D. (seated); Michael Ming, M.D.; Wilma Bergfeld, M.D.; and Mary Lupo, M.D. (Photo: Jim Ezell, E-Z Event Photography)

Karen E. Burke, M.D., Ph.D., of New York City writes about her precious friendship with Andy Warhol. Saudi Arabian international WDS member Iqbal Bukhari, M.D., shares her passion for art. Barbara M. Mathes, M.D., of Doylestown, Pa., talks about her battle with depression.

Dr. Tung, assistant professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, says the book helps to celebrate WDS members’ insights and their good deeds over the society’s 35-year history.

It’s the spirit of the society that inspired the book, according to 2010-11 WDS President Lisa A. Garner, M.D. Leafing through Petals & Pearls, one can’t help but notice the organization’s camaraderie, friendships and passion, says Dr. Garner, clinical professor, department of dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas.

“There are many wonderful stories of family and friendship. … I enjoyed reading the messages of gratitude for being in this profession, passion for work, in addition to dedication to family and friends,” she says.

Years in the making
According to Wendy E. Roberts, M.D., 2009-10 president, she and colleagues first started talking about the possibility of a WDS keepsake book in 2007.

“Five of us - Drs. (Mary) Lupo, (Wilma) Bergfeld, (Lenore) Kakita, (Suzanne) Connolly and I - were sitting in the WDS center at (a) meeting … and just talking, and that’s when I said, ‘Wow, we have so much wisdom, just look at this table. … Wouldn’t it be great if we published a book that had words of wisdom for our members?” she says.

Dr. Roberts, who wrote the book’s prologue, shared in a separate vignette that she was a semi-professional dancer before becoming a dermatologist. She tells the story of how she didn’t get into dance classes, which forced her to choose something else: becoming a chemistry major.

“Chemistry was a class that I was proud to avoid,” Dr. Roberts says. “It’s kind of one of those light comedies that you can’t script. The joys of life are these unexpected treasures.”

In this pictorial salute to WDS members, Dr. Roberts is pictured at age 16 in ballerina attire.

In a walk through history, past presidents of the Women’s Dermatological Society line up on stage, with “Petals & Pearls” in one hand and a long-stemmed rose in the other. Pictured (from left) are Wilma Bergfeld, M.D.; Lynn Drake, M.D.; Marcia Tonneson, M.D.; Wesley Galen King, M.D.; Gloria Graham, M.D.; Sandy Read, M.D.; Marianne O’Donoghue, M.D.; Susan Weinkle, M.D.; Barbara Gilchrest, M.D.; Jean Bolognia, M.D.; Elizabeth McBurney, M.D.; Mary Lupo, M.D.; Suzanne Connolly, M.D.; and Wendy Roberts, M.D. (Photo: Jim Ezell, E-Z Event Photography)

The project officially took off in fall 2008. Dr. Tung says the society approached its approximately 1,600 members about planning the book in November 2008, via invitations and e-mails. The correspondences asked men and women in the society to contribute their reflections, observations, vignettes and more.

“It’s like casting a wide net; you get an amazing return - better than we could have imagined,” Dr. Tung says. “I don’t think there has been something put out like this.”

No small endeavor
The Allergan Foundation funded about $200,000 for Petals & Pearls. Dr. Tung, co-advisers Dr. Bergfeld and Dr. Roberts, and 10 WDS members forming the editorial board all volunteered their time.

Sigrid Bergfeld (Dr. Bergfeld’s daughter) contributed creative design and Norm Friedman contributed editorial and writing. Both held paid positions. The project was also a large focus for WDS director of communications Nancy FitzGerald.

“We were around the table at Dr. Bergeld’s home many Sunday mornings producing this,” Dr. Tung says.

The grand plan for Petals & Pearls, published in March 2010, is to provide a keepsake for society members as well as a recruitment tool to be given to all graduating dermatology residents (men and women).

Perhaps most important, the book allows readers glimpses into the multifaceted and rich lives of WDS members, Dr. Roberts says.

How to order
Additional copies of Petals & Pearls are available for a donation of $65 per book, plus $10 shipping. Complimentary member copies cost only $10 shipping. To order, go to http://www.womensderm.org/book/.

“We hope that as people read though this, people who are not members will be encouraged to become members and participate with us, and people who are members but have been less active will … get to know these people, and it will encourage more interaction,” Dr. Garner says.