You may have seen Kristi Funk, M.D. ’96, on Good Morning America talking about breast cancer prevention. She has also received national attention for raising awareness for treatment options, as exemplified by celebrity patients who include actress Angelina Jolie and musician Sheryl Crow. Here, Funk discusses her new book, Breasts: The Owner’s Manual (Thomas Nelson Inc., 2018), with freelance writer Sarah Colwell.
Sarah Colwell: What made you want to write your book?
Kristi Funk: I was motivated to write the book largely because I don’t have the time in a routine office visit to dispense all the advice that I would love to impart to women. I really wanted to create a resource that was entirely evidence-based, steeped in science, and readable, approachable, not daunting, enjoyable and potentially life-altering and lifesaving.
SC: How did your UC Davis experience influence your career trajectory?
KF: At the time I went there, UC Davis was known to have more in-class hours than any other medical school in the country. They pushed that to the limit, but I’m glad they did. I learned to be who I am today, as a physician, because of UC Davis. Learning the value of evidence-based medicine, which is what I used to write my book, is how I was trained.
SC: What are some things everyone needs to know about staying healthy, whether they have breasts or not?
KF: There are boulders on the scale of life and health. The boulders, the things that can really push you toward or away from illness, are diet and nutrition, your weight and exercise, and alcohol. The other things — environmental toxicities and stresses, etc. — are somewhere between pebbles and grains of sand on that scale. So, if you don’t have your diet, your weight, your exercise and your alcohol consumption under control, then you should not spend one second worrying about the BPA in your plastic water bottle.
SC: You opened your clinic, Pink Lotus, just months before giving birth to triplets. What was that like?
KF: Without a doubt, it was the biggest challenge of my life. What we’ve been through the last decade is more than I would have chosen. My entrepreneurial husband, Andy, and I decided to open a center because we wanted to deliver care in a more holistic and compassionate way than it had been delivered, in my experience, at the big institutions. It was the absolute nadir of worldwide financial collapse. [Accomplishing our goal] was tough, but I woke up each morning grateful and ready to work.
SC: One of your patients, Angelina Jolie, shared her story about having a preventative double mastectomy and salpingooophorectomy (operation to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes) in 2013. Why do you think celebrities need to share their stories?
KF: When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they can feel like they are the only person in the world who has to face these decisions. It’s helpful to find someone who has traveled this world before you. It’s celebrity status at its best and most powerful.