The virtual format of ESO-WSO 2020 has allowed presenters and participants to attend from all corners of the world. While many people logged in from hospitals, at least one presenter recorded her presentation while she was a patient in one. Dr. Cheryl Carcel gave birth two weeks early and attended the conference while recovering. The virtual format made her participation  possible.

Dr. Carcel already presented her work on Gender Bias in Stroke Trials and the webcast can be viewed in the Saturday morning session titled Gender Differences in Stroke. She also presented at teh WISE Leadership workshop. We caught her in between conference sessions and nursing sessions and asked her to share her perspective on ESO-WSO 2020 as a presenter and mother.

Did you ever imagine the possibility of recording a lecture days after giving birth?

At the moment, I am able to participate in the conference and even present my work because it is virtual. I can even watch while breastfeeding which is amazing and something I never thought I would do. While I had timed all my recordings to be before my scheduled due date, my son had his own plans and came out two weeks early. By this time, I had already recorded for my talk on Gender Bias in Stroke Trials for the Gender Differences session but not my presentation on Promoting gender equality in stroke leadership—Asia Pacific perspective. Fortunately, the recording for the second talk was very flexible and I had very helpful people around me! My husband and nurses took care of the newborn and I had some peace and quiet to record– the day after having an emergency C-section. There was probably no way of giving this presentation live but the availability of recording opened many doors for me and also for many others from different parts of the world who would not normally have been able to attend the conference.

How did you come to be interested in stroke research?

I became interested in stroke research during my clinical neurology training in the Philippines— there was so much unmet needs there and the opportunity to explore them through research was massive. However, it was when I joined The George Institute in Sydney Australia  that I really delved into stroke research. I have some really great mentors at the institute who involved me in their exciting clinical trials and helped me start my own program of work on gender differences in stroke. One of my passions now is looking at the gender bias in clinical trials and how to enrol more women in these stroke trials.

What topics are you most excited about from the ESO-WSO 2020 conference?

The most obvious ones are those on sex and gender differences, stroke in women sessions which the ESO-WSO 2020 dedicate more than adequate time to. I am also keen to catch up on small vessel disease, cognition, AF, clinical trials and of course, the guideline sessions. There are too many to list — I am glad that I have three months to watch all the session.

How do you balance your work and private life?

This is a good question and one that I do not really have an answer to. In my opinion, the work/life balance is a myth. I am fortunate that I love what I do so I do not mind if, at times, it spills over my off-hours or if my home responsibilities creep into my work hours. I think the key to achieving near-balance of work and life is having very supportive people around you. As an example, when I had to take my maternity leave two weeks early, my supervisors and colleagues were the first to suggest that I re-allocate my work to those who were able or to hold off on some projects that could wait upon my return. My clinical colleagues were also incredibly understanding when my patients had to be rescheduled into their already full list.

Bringing work home or being flexible with work hours to accommodate home responsibilities probably does not suit everyone. However, having a flexible and accommodating work environment at The George Institute is something that I truly appreciate. And finally, I have a husband and young daughter who indulge me especially when there are deadlines that need to be met.

Will we meet you in Helsinki next September?

Would love to be in the next ESO! I cannot wait!