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The Road to Medicine through Service

“Reflecting back on high school, I was completely influenced by Carondelet in my career goals, even though I didn’t know it then.”

“You don’t have to follow a traditional path to your career—enjoy the path while you are on it!” Words that Robin Schoenthaler ’72 lives by. Her path after graduation wasn’t necessarily straightforward, but she still found her way to a rewarding career spent working with breast cancer patients.

Robin credits the Sisters of Saint Joseph working at Carondelet while she was there with her interest in social action and justice. She explained, “Sr. Joanna Marie was very involved with social justice and encouraged us to be aware and involved during high school.”

After graduation, she knew she wanted to help people, but was having trouble determining how. She worked as an activist throughout the United States before returning to California, knowing she wanted to put down roots while also following a path of service.

She worked as an EMT full time and took night classes at UC Berkeley. Upon graduation, she went to med school at UCLA. “Early in medical school, I decided to go into cancer medicine and honed into the field of radiation oncology.” After her residency at UCSF, she got a job opportunity at Mass General Hospital and moved to the East Coast in 1992.

“I spent my entire career working with breast cancer patients,” said Robin. “I have met thousands of amazing, beautiful, resilient breast cancer patients who have taught me about grace, nobility, and how to cope with adversity and the cycle of life. Breast cancer is a terribly frightening disease and it affects the whole family, not just the patient.”

Five years ago she started working part-time helping cancer patients get second opinions online as a senior physician case manager. “We’re able to help people all over the country and world get expert medical second opinions when they’ve been newly diagnosed with cancer or when their cancer has spread. It’s a wonderful program and allows me to continue helping cancer patients,” said Robin.

Robin always envisioned herself as a mother and decided to raise two children on her own after medical school. “I am thankful everyday for my two wonderful, compassionate sons, Cooper and Kenzie.”

Never one to truly retire, when COVID reared its ugly head in 2020, she began advising her community on health and the pandemic through her weekly, fact-based essays. “I am forever thankful to Carondelet for encouraging me to fight for others, to be of meaningful service to cancer patients, and to be a lifelong learner.”


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