Breast Cancer Surgeon, Mount Sinai Hospital
An Alumna’s Winding Road to Success
The story of Dr. Christina Weltz ’79’s professional career could be called “Your Plans May Go Astray” or “Follow Your Heart.” As a student at Chapin, she loved politics, even interning for a senator in Washington, D.C. during her senior year. When she arrived at Harvard College in 1979, she took classes in history and literature, hoping they would help to prepare her for law school and, eventually, a job shaping public policy.
Because Harvard required all students to live on campus, Dr. Weltz was looking for ways to connect with the Cambridge and Boston communities when she found herself volunteering at Boston Children’s Hospital on the Harvard Medical School campus. That’s when her life took a fateful turn.
One day, as she played cards with a young patient on the post-surgical floor, the attending surgeon came into the room to check on his progress. As Dr. Weltz watched in amazement, the child stood up and walked for the very first time in his life, having undergone successful surgery for a congenital hip disorder. Thanks to the talented surgeon standing next to her, this boy would be able to walk, run and keep up with other children his age. “It was very emotional,” she said of the experience.
And just like that, law school and politics were off the table. Instead, she was determined to pursue a career in medicine. “Being a doctor was the most meaningful thing I could do in this world,” said Dr. Weltz, who spoke at Upper School News on January 17, 2018.
This unusual senior-year change required not only additional coursework, which she completed at Harvard and Stanford University, but tenacity and perseverance, traits she said she developed at Chapin. Dr. Weltz attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where she “fell in love with surgery.” She then did her surgical training at Duke University, ultimately choosing to specialize in the surgical treatment of breast cancer. In 1997 Dr. Weltz returned to New York to join the faculty of Mount Sinai Hospital, where she currently treats breast cancer patients, teaches medical students and residents, and conducts clinical research.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer found in American women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer). One in eight women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. These sobering statistics compelled Dr. Weltz to specialize in this area of oncology. She knew she could help women navigate “one of the hardest times in [their] life.” Being there for her patients in every way possible – from providing state-of-the-art treatment options to offering psychological and emotional support – remains the most important aspect of her work.
Dr. Weltz couldn’t be more pleased with how her professional life turned out. “I never regretted my decision and I never looked back.”
- Alumnae Profiles