As a pharmacist specializing in hematology and oncology, Tracy Wiczer’s day-to-day endeavors involve helping to prolong people’s lives, and in her free time, she does the same…only for bunnies!
As a child, Tracy excelled in math and science, but also had a sweet spot for animals, even considering becoming a zoo-keeper for koalas when she grew up. But after her mother’s passing from ovarian cancer when she was only 10 years old, and her father surviving prostate cancer, Tracy knew she wanted to specialize in hematology/oncology as her career path.
“I wanted to be able to improve the lives of patients going through similar times that I experienced with my parents,” she says.
But it wasn’t an easy path. In order to specialize in the field, she needed to complete two additional years of post-graduate training. After completing her second year at The James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University, Tracy was offered a position. She’s now a board certified oncology pharmacist, and one of only four pharmacists at The James who specializes in lymphomas, chronic leukemias, multiple myeloma and benign hematology disorders. So what does that entail?
“I work closely with teams consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, case managers and nurses to provide care for patients with blood cancers. My main role is ensuring chemotherapy orders are 100% correct and optimizing supportive care medications. Being part of this team is extremely rewarding and I love interacting with the patients to teach them about what to expect from their chemotherapy or fix any medication related problems they may be having,” she explains.
She also trains pharmacists and researches medications, she’s even had four of her research projects published, and presented one at the American Society of Hematology meeting in December 2016.
Although her job would seem to be challenging from a scientific perspective, Tracy admits that the most difficult part has nothing really to do with being a pharmacist; it’s largely a financial conundrum.
“The cost of cancer care, chemotherapy in particular, is absolutely mind boggling. Part of my job is to coordinate between the physicians, the people who help with insurance authorizations, our medication assistance department, and pharmacy/hospital administration to make sure medications are affordable for my patients,” she says.
When she’s not brainstorming how to help patients, Tracy hops back to helping her pet cause: rabbit rescue. She spends her time assisting organizations that house and help bunnies, even utilizing the “Bunderground Railroad” rescuer transport to help rabbits find homes when there is no space available anywhere in central Ohio. “I’ve had up to 13 rabbits living in my house because there was simply nowhere for them to go at the time,” she confesses.
“I adopted my first pair of rabbits when I was in college,” she recalls. “Thumper and Muncher were my first bunnies and taught me a lot about rabbits. I discovered Ohio House Rabbit Rescue (OHRR) when I was looking to adopt a rabbit after one of mine passed away. Before this point I didn’t realize that rescuing rabbits was a thing!”
Through OHRR, Tracy learned about “Buncare” volunteering, which she began doing in November of 2014. She fed and cleaned up the litter every Tuesday, and, eventually, she was invited to be a bigger part of their organization by helping catch domestic rabbits that people released into the wild when they no longer wanted to care for them.
“Personally, if you let me “free” into the wild, I would struggle to survive,” Tracy says, “So you can imagine a similar problem for a domestic rabbit!”
She has helped rescue over 60 stray rabbits since July 2016, and also assists in transporting them to vet appointments. For OHRR, Tracy also coordinates their “chillaxabun lounge” at the Midwest Bunfest convention, gives education presentations, helps with adoption events, and plays matchmaker by setting up “bunny bonding,” which is basically matchmaking for rabbits. By partnering with OHRR, the Columbus House Rabbit Society (CHRS), and the local humane society, she’s helped many fuzzy tailed friends find a place they can call home.
So what advice does this rabbit rescuer and patient proponent have for young women leaping into adulthood?
“I was definitely never one of the cool girls as I excelled in school, was a band nerd, and am not especially athletic. It’s 100% ok to be a dork!”
We agree that any dork that helps people and pets live better lives is truly a very Cool Girl!
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