Tricia Kelly, MD, is a lot of things. A dedicated St. Luke’s breast surgeon who specializes in the treatment of breast cancer. A devoted mother with a 16-year-old son. A vocal advocate for women’s health. And, oh yes, a yoga evangelist. (Not just someone who “does yoga.” This is a passion.)
What brought her to yoga was a personal health issue: a second hospital admission due to an asthma attack. “Immediately after that, I realized I couldn’t do the same intensity of exercise,” says Dr. Kelly. “I began yoga as an interim way to stay fit, but, remarkably, it’s become so much more than that.”
“Yoga changed my life,” she explains. “Once I started practicing yoga, I changed the way I ate. I changed the way I reacted to things and how I treat people. It’s an outlet that helps release stress and keeps me grounded and connected.”
It’s an integral part of Dr. Kelly’s life, mirroring her belief in a holistic, integrated approach to patient care and women’s health advocacy. “I see myself as a holistic physician, taking care of the whole person,” she says. “As a breast surgeon, I’m restoring women physically. But there are so many other components that need to be understood and addressed. There are emotional factors, diet, exercise—these all combine to getting a person back to who they are and what their whole life is. I strongly believe in an integrated therapy approach.”
Dr. Kelly’s passion for yoga is integrated into her advocacy for women’s health. She has done yoga workshops for women both in the Lehigh Valley and nationally, and is on the committee for Wings of Hope and started Yoga for Hope, which benefits the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
On a personal note, has her yoga evangelism impacted her son and home life? “Indirectly,” says Dr. Kelly. “He’s personally more interested in basketball and other sports. But he knows when I’m doing yoga at home, I need the place to be quiet and he respects that. When he was younger he used to join me on the mat at home and in the studio. He observes the positive effects it has on me and I believe that positivity trickles over to him as well. Even though he may not acknowledge that now, I’m sure later in life he will appreciate it.”
Dr. Kelly finds her professional life equally rewarding, and the benefits of yoga allow her to give her all for her patients. “I became very interested in this area of specialization during my surgical residency. Colleagues I met in this field were all very happy with the choice they had made. I learned how the arena of breast surgery was rapidly advancing, and you develop long term relationships with your patients.”
She also notes that cancer-related surgery has become more personalized and procedures more sophisticated and less invasive. “At St. Luke’s, our treatment program is tailored to the individual patient, so you can really see the impact you’re having on the whole person.”