Congratulations, it is an Honor to Feature
KATHLEEN R. SHARP, PA-C
Virginia Oncology Associates
As she works with cancer patients, Kathy Sharp values patient education and honest conversations, no matter the disease or prognosis.
Sharp, a Physician Assistant at Virginia Oncology Associates (VOA) for nearly 12 years, is part of a team of compassionate providers that guides patients and their families through treatments that often can feel frightening and overwhelming.
As she celebrates continuous medical advances, Sharp doesn’t shy away from tough conversations, if needed.
“I’ve always felt like it’s a profound privilege to participate in patients’ lives and their care,” she says. “They deserve a full understanding of their diagnosis and what to expect from treatments. We can cure a lot of people, yes, but even if we can’t, we can do a lot to control the disease for a period of time, address symptoms and in some cases provide guidance on end-of-life care.”
Sharp practices with Scott J. Cross, MD, PhD, at the Sentara Brock Cancer Center in Norfolk. While Dr. Cross treats all types of cancers and blood disorders, he specializes in blood cancers and oversees VOA’s Stem Cell Transplant and CAR T-cell Therapy programs.
Access to autologous stem cell transplants and cell-based gene therapy – as well as multiple clinical trials at VOA – allows many of Sharp’s patients to stay close to home for advanced care. New medications and targeted therapies also are emerging regularly.
“Where we once had more limited options for certain diseases, in many cases, we now can offer much more hope,” Sharp notes. “I feel optimistic about cancer care because you never know what new treatment options might be coming.”
Sharp has been a Hampton Roads resident since high school when her Navy family moved to Hampton. She graduated from Bethel High School and went to Radford University thinking she’d be a Nursing major, but she found she loved basic science and switched to Biology.
Sharp earned a master’s in Biology at the College of William and Mary while working as an Assistant in the Population Ecology Laboratory, a Teaching Assistant and as Adjunct Faculty. She then spent a year as a Clinical and Basic Science Research Assistant at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in a molecular biology lab and the Strelitz Diabetes Institute.
Looking for more patient interaction, Sharp completed the Master of Physician Assistant program at EVMS in 2010. Shortly after, she joined VOA to work with Paul R. Conkling, MD, a now-retired oncologist who provided her with a solid foundation in medicine and patient education.
For Sharp, one of the most rewarding parts of her job is carving out extra time for open communication with patients, including answering questions, educating about diseases and treatment and providing emotional support. She credits Dr. Cross and his team with helping her grow as a practitioner and providing an important support system for each other.
“There is an emotional toll sometimes in this work,” she relates. “We always hope for good outcomes, but that’s not always possible due to the nature of the diseases we treat. It helps to know that the people around me are committed to teamwork and excellent care. Their hard work and dedication are improving access to care for those who need it.”
Outside work, Sharp spends most of her time with her husband and three children, ages 11, 9 and 6; they all look forward to regular Friday pizza and movie nights. Her hobbies include gardening, reading and swimming.
And Sharp is still fascinated by science. “The scientific and medical community continue to work to make advances that will improve the lives of our patients,” she says. “It’s incredible to be a small part of that.”
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