May 04, 2020

Strong Women

Janet Hock was told she couldn't be a dentist.

Janet was born in '44 and grew up in post-war England. She came from a very poor family, though rich in love, and was a driven athlete. As a young girl she played on the equivalent of her school's varsity national champion lacrosse team. The feeling of winning and the discipline required was a critical character-forming experience for her. She eventually became far more than a dentist.

When she was 14, her headmistress asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Janet replied, "I'd like to be a dentist." The headmistress told her she "couldn't be a dentist because that's not what women do." Janet remembers getting mad at that and thinking, "I'll show you. You have no right to tell me what I can't do".

I've got to give fair warning: Janet is not much of a listener when it comes to "can't".

Janet received her BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) in 1966 from Guy's Hospital in London (the only dental school at the time with a lacrosse team), did her residency in oral surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, and then moved to the US in 1967.

She received her PhD in 1970 from the University of London and then lived and worked in Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and eventually, Indiana. I'm skipping an awful lot here, bear with me.

Dr. Hock is pretty special, and no matter how much I tell you about her I'll still be shorting her history.

The good doctor worked as a Clinical Investigator at the VA in Boston, became a Professor at the Tufts School of Dentistry, worked as a USDA Senior Scientist at Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts, and then...

In 1992, the pharma giant Eli Lilly hired her, where she became the Director of the Skeletal Diseases Division, Endocrine Unit. It was at Lilly that she made the contribution that will probably affect YOUR mother: Janet Hock was the lead scientist for Forteo, a first-in-class anabolic drug used to treat osteoporotic fractures.

Maybe you haven't heard of Forteo, and that's OK. There are plenty of other billion dollar ideas you haven't heard of as well, although now there is one less you don't know about.

So when your mother starts getting rickety and her bones get fragile and the docs prescribe Forteo to help keep those bones strong, it will have been my mother who helped develop that drug.

Hopefully it comes as only a slight surprise that Janet Hock, hero of bone density and non-listener of people who tell her she "can't", is my mother.

Mom did all that while supporting her family, running a boatload of 10k races, and raising at least one exceptional child, though there are two of us. ;)

After retiring from a career filled with ass-kicking, going where people said she couldn't, and doing what (especially men) said she couldn't do, she decided that sitting at home doing nothing wouldn't keep her entertained for more than about 7 seconds, so she began a second life as a musician.

Yep, from cold hard science to sweet music, Mom became a singer, took lessons, and with her usual intense vim and vigor stepped wholeheartedly into the life of a singer.

She is so focused on singing that when my sister received her PhD in England, Mom wasn't sure she could make it to the ceremony, as the PhD ceremony might have a scheduling conflict with choir.

Yes, that is how intense my Mom is about things she's into.

All this is a roundabout way of saying mothers are pretty damn special. I'm sure yours is as important and awesome and heroine-like to you as mine is to me.

I figured I'd beat the world to the punch and wish my Mom a Happy Mother's Day well before the rest of the planet gears up with motherly love.

Here's to those who block out the "can't"!

Enjoy the week!

~Nik @ Paleo Treats

Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

Too much reading...
How about dessert?

Too Much Reading...How About Dessert?

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