A radiation oncologist with a medical degree from the prestigious Mayo Clinic’s medical school, Dr. Clare Bertucio has been a practicing physician for nearly 30 years, most recently serving on the nine-physician Alaska COVID-19 task force. Today, she is the chief executive officer of Medicine Mama’s Apothecary, a company offering wholly natural and organic skincare and personal care products. Keep reading to learn more about the challenges she’s overcoming at this stage of life as well as the product that she always keeps on hand.
What is one thing that you never thought that you would experience in this decade?
A global pandemic. Even with 25 years of radiation oncology practice under my belt, I could never have imagined how much our world and our day-to-day lives have changed in less than a year. I’m deeply saddened by the loss of so many lives and so much health and welfare. I am, also, truly awed and inspired by the resilience and innovation of human spirit in the face of such tragedy and disruption. As we are being devastated, we are finding a path to rebuild and renew.
How are you managing your health these days?
Living in Alaska, I have access to a bounty of outdoor activities. My latest craze is snow biking. As a longtime cycling enthusiast, this feels like the next great adventure. Between hiking, biking, and yoga, I find that I’m able to maintain balance, fitness, and clarity. I highly recommend activity (at any level) as part of everyone’s routine. I also try to eat a diet rich in fresh ingredients, especially vegetables. When I was in medical school, I read an article that described healthy eating as choosing from the outer aisles of the grocery store—this is still where all of the good stuff is!
What’s one good habit that you’ve cultivated lately?
I remind myself daily how lucky I am to have my health, my family, and my friends. I think it’s easy to forget how important these people are to us in so many ways. If you haven’t recently, pick up the phone and tell someone you love them; it will make both of you smile!
How do you feel about your career?
After nearly 25 years of clinical oncology practice, I’m refocusing my efforts on women’s health and empowerment. About a year ago, I had the opportunity to become CEO of Medicine Mama’s Apothecary, an all-organic certified line of bee/honey-based products. I’m especially excited about our vulvar products, which address women’s needs for intimate skincare throughout their lifetimes—including menopause. I believe that being able to openly talk about and address feminine needs leads to women’s empowerment. To actively be a part of breaking down these barriers and enabling self-discovery, is a dream job!
What does self-care mean to you?
It means having the tools and the support to be a better/healthier me. It means allowing myself to dedicate time to doing things that make me happy, satisfied, and relaxed. It means truly believing in self-worth and valuing myself. It’s also difficult, and I’m still learning! For so many generations, women have been taught that taking time for ourselves is “selfish.” But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we certainly can’t take care of others. I am currently working my way through this maze and want to give a shoutout to all those who are on the same path. I’ve come to understand that self-care includes the health of our inside, our outside, and our spiritual side. We all have to make it a priority and give ourselves voice.
Do you have an object in your house that inspires you?
About ten years ago, my husband and I went to Jordan to visit his daughter who was doing a study abroad program there for a year. We happened into a shop run by a women’s collective. We bought an amazing hand-sewn tapestry, which now hangs in our entry hall. Its complexity, use of vibrant color, and depth of imagery make it visually stunning. But knowing that it was created by Jordanian women fighting for equality and basic rights and that its sale benefitted their cause, is what makes it truly inspirational.
Do you have any new role models for this decade?
Kamala Harris! Our first woman VP elect, and it’s about time. She’s smart, more than capable, progressive, extremely articulate, and the picture of empowerment. She’s a role model for all women who wonder, “can I?” She shows us that the answer is always, “yes, you can!”
Is there a beauty product you always keep on hand?
I always carry a Sweet Bee Magic wand wherever I go. It’s our all-in-one lip-and-skin balm in a convenient sized carry tube. It’s great for all kinds of minor skin irritations, and it’s also my favorite lip gloss (My husband and son are constantly borrowing it, as well!). Powered by Melexylem (pronounced Mel-e-z-eye-lem), our proprietary super-concentrated blend of nutrient-rich hive ingredients including honey and propolis, this balm has heightened prebiotic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
What’s the hardest part about this point in your life?
Redefining myself and my goals. For 25 years, I’ve been an oncologist. For nearly 20 years, I’ve been a mom and a wife. Our children are all away at universities, and I’ve switched my emphasis from a full-time clinician to a full time CEO. This has meant a lot of change, redirection, and soul searching. It’s been challenging to say the least, but also rewarding and empowering.