Island pediatrician honored

Rebecca Mar
Mercer Island Reporter

Janice Woolley, M.D., was honored Saturday with a benefit in Seattle that raised money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Woolley began her career with the Mercer Island Pediatrics Associates in 1971. Then she partnered with Theodore Mandelkorn, M.D., in 2001 to form Puget Sound Behavioral Medicine, which treats attention deficit disorder and mood or behavior problems in children and adults on Mercer Island. After Woolley’s diagnosis with multiple myeloma last spring, she retired in June.

“She was a spectacular partner — very caring, very responsive to her patients and staff. She was a joy to have as a partner,” said Mandelkorn, who worked with Woolley for 34 years.

Woolley graduated from Brigham Young University in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and the Indiana University Medical School in 1966. She continued on to the University of Washington Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, training in pediatrics and adolescent health.

The woman who grew up in Indianapolis, has lived on Mercer Island for 22 years with her husband, John. She said she became a physician for a variety of reasons, having been drawn to science, biology and interaction with people in the health field.

“My father was a pharmaceutical chemist, so I had a fair amount of exposure to chemistry and pharmaceutics through him,” she said. “He had family members who were physicians, which also influenced me. [Pediatrics] had been my interest from early on in medical school. I enjoyed pediatrics and felt comfortable there.” In the late 1990s, she was listed twice as one of Seattle’s best doctors in Seattle Magazine.

Among Woolley’s other interests are birdwatching, hiking and writing — she is, in fact, the author of a book, “Food for Tots,” which she wrote with her daughter, Jennifer Pugmire, one of her four adult children. She is currently working on a second edition.

When Woolley was diagnosed with cancer at age 66 last spring, it came as a shock.

“I thought I was perfectly healthy and went to a doctor for an unrelated health concern and was diagnosed with a blood test,” she said.

She initially continued working, but after starting chemotherapy she had no choice but to retire, as the chemotherapy sapped her energy. The chemo treatment extended through August and was successful. A subsequent stem cell transplant at Swedish Hospital — which involved a chemo dose to destroy bone marrow, as well as the transfusion of Woolley’s own stem cells — was also a success.

“Now it is just a matter of rebuilding strength and energy. I don’t have pain or discomfort,” she said. Though her energy level is still considerably less than normal, she is participating in a rehabilitation program at Swedish Cancer Institute to increase her strength and muscle tone.

“I’m optimistic that I’ll stay in remission for a long time,” she said.

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