I aced my law exam while having a C-section. I’m Cheryl Campbell, a cancer pharmacologist, lawyer, and entrepreneur.Featured
What’s your name and your current role?My name is Cheryl Campbell and I am a Corporate and Intellectual Property Attorney with McCarter & English in Boston, MA. Where’s the place of your origin?I am originally from Manila, Philippines and moved to Centerville, OH when I was 14 years old. Now, I live in Boston, MA with my husband and our two daughters.How many years have you been in tech?I have been in biotech for close to 20 years and other tech for 4.What’s something that you’ve done that you’re proud of?I am proud of the fact that I aced my Trademark Law exam in law school even though I finished the exam while I was having a C-section for the birth of my youngest daughter. Please tell us more about this.I was in the middle of exams in law school and I was taking the Trademark exam. All of a sudden, I felt like my heart was racing and I was starting to get a weird headache. I was 9 months pregnant so I knew I wasn’t supposed to ignore any symptoms. I told the test proctor that I didn’t feel well and needed to call my OB/Gyn. It just so happened that my OB had been trying to call me because earlier that day I had a test done showing that I was at high risk for preeclampsia. That, combined with my new weird nauseousness/weird headache suggested to her that I was developing toxemia and needed to have a c-section right away and get treated. I told the test proctor, called my husband, called my neighbor to ask if she could watch my 3 year old daughter so my husband could be with me at the hospital and then I drove myself to the hospital where my OB was already waiting. They immediately attached me to a magnesium drip and I waited for the OR prep. Meanwhile, I kept working in my exam. When my husband arrived, he tried to take my laptop from me, but I kept working to finish the exam so I would be done by the time my daughter was born. I worked on it through my c-section. After my daughter was born, they had to take her to the nursery for testing. So I kept working through to make sure that I’d be done by the time I met her. Sure enough, I was done about 5 mins before they rolled her in to see me. I turned in my exam while I was still connected to my magnesium drip. It was stressful but I wanted to get it done so I could focus on her. When I brought her home, I had 3 weeks left of exams so I managed taking care of her, my 3 year old and ended up getting straight A’s that semester. I wanted to give up so much but I kept going because I wanted a better future for my family. I am proud of this because it showed me what I was capable of. This, to me, is an example of a mother’s love.What’s your “aha” moment in deciding what do you want to do professionally?It wasn’t much of an “aha” moment. Instead, I watched my mom die of lung cancer when I was 12 and vowed that I would dedicate my life to helping other cancer patients like my mom after she died. I guess, in a way, it was my way of helping myself deal with the pain. But I’ve been on track to improving patient care in cancer for as long as I can remember.What’s your definition of success in life or in your career?My definition of success in life and my career is fulfilling my purpose, which is to make a positive impact in patient care.What’s something that you’re working on to improve about yourself?I’m working on building my self-confidence to lead. I’ve been a functional expert for most of my career, focusing on my individual contributions. However, I’d now like to mentor others and help those who share the same purpose to make a positive impact on patient care. Tell us about someone who has inspired you a great deal. Who was it and how did they inspire you?My mom. She was the CEO of her own company when I was growing up. I remember that she would receive free trips over Christmas from her clients so that she could take her family on these lavish holidays. Instead of spending it on herself, she shared it with her employees. Every year that she got one, she would give the vacation gift to whoever was in the rotation for that year. She said that without them, she wouldn’t have these gifts so it was only fair that they all shared in the company’s good fortune. I’ve always admired her dedication to her people. They were loyal to her when she was alive and still celebrate her year after year even though she’s been gone for close to 30 years now.How do you celebrate your wins?I celebrate by spending time with my friends and family and just being grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. I don’t necessarily just celebrate wins. Sometimes, I celebrate failures as well because I see these events as learning opportunities. Life, to me, is all about learning through both wins and failures.What do you do when you aren't working?I spend a lot of time with my family and church while also volunteering to help young girls gain more confidence in STEM fields through my local chapter of Science Club for Girls. I also do quite a bit of pro bono work helping fight for veterans’ benefits (my husband is a veteran) and victims of domestic abuse. When I’m not doing that, I love to go to the gym or go on bike rides with my daughters.What is one piece of advice that you’d share with the Elpha community?I would encourage everyone to never be afraid of failure. It’s been through failure that I’ve learned my most valuable lessons. Fail often and fail fast.Cheryl is an entrepreneurial problem solver and scientist with a strong background in law, regulatory development, and business. Her passion is in supporting and promoting the life sciences industry by partnering with entrepreneurs in the biotechnology, cosmetics, blockchain (as applied in life sciences) and health and wellness spaces to help start and grow their companies. Before entering the legal profession, she was a pharmacologist working on cancer drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry. Since leaving the bench, she has remained in the life sciences industry working in various areas such as managing clinical trials; drafting regulations for drug control, prescription monitoring, cannabis dispensary licensure, and pharmaceutical code of conduct; working on biotech company IPOs; drafting and negotiating complex commercial contracts, fund formation. She's even launched a medical device startup. In 2015, she was appointed to the MA Drug Formulary Commission by Governor Charlie Baker, a 16-member panel of experts responsible for preparing the state's drug formulary of substitutions for Schedule II or III opiates that the Commission has determined to have a heightened level of public health risk due to the drugs’ potential for abuse and misuse. In this role, she works with the Commission to review drug data for bioequivalence activity of certain opioid formulations as well as consider and analyze the implications of drug policy on patient care.