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UH Connor Whole Health Physician Receives Endowed Position

It didn’t take long for Bob Shearer to recognize that Santosh Rao, MD, ABOIM, was the right person for him to support philanthropically. Dr. Rao is the Medical Director of Integrative Oncology for University Hospitals Connor Whole Health and was recently named the inaugural Robert and Melissa Shearer Master Clinician in Integrative Oncology.

Santosh Rao, MD
Santosh Rao, MD

“The thing that impressed me the most was his passion for integrative medicine,” said Bob, “And when you’re looking to make a gift, you want to make sure it goes to the right person and that their thoughts and ideas are in line with yours. Dr. Rao was definitely the right fit.”

The Power of Integrative Medicine

Bob, whose wife, Melissa, passed away in 2022 after an eight year battle with cancer, has seen firsthand the power of integrative medicine. “Cancer treatments are very difficult, so whatever you can do along the way to help improve the symptoms and side effects is a positive thing.”

“I was humbled to receive this recognition for our program,” Dr. Rao said. “It is a testimony to the team and the ongoing legacy of UH Connor Whole Health. I also feel there is so much work to do and I love that others are interested and passionate about building our program as well.

Bob said he’s looking forward to seeing what Dr. Rao does to move integrative oncology forward at UH.

“I’d love to see Dr. Rao and UH Connor Whole Health set the standard for integrative health around the country. We can’t be afraid to think outside the box and look at all treatment options.”

Dr. Rao added, “This endowment will help us utilize health coaching and lifestyle consulting along with helping us expand our program overall. It is an essential piece of a growing portfolio for patients.

“It means everything to have the support of someone who has gone through the cancer journey as a caregiver and understands better than I do how much this really matters to patients. I feel very fortunate to have partners like Bob who believe in our mission and what we are trying to do at UH Connor Whole Health.”

Treating the Whole Person

Matthew Wright also believes in Dr. Rao’s mission. Matthew, a professor of theater at Oberlin College, experienced a recurrence of cancer in 2021 that presented in his lymph nodes, following initial treatment for breast cancer in 2016 that involved surgery, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Daily radiation treatments over six weeks were particularly taxing on his body.

During a follow-up appointment with a surgeon, lymphedema, or a buildup of fluid, was found. Matthew also described a variety of other complications he was experiencing, including extreme fatigue. He was referred to Dr. Rao, who prescribed a more plant-based diet, weaned him off Ambien and encouraged yoga and meditation. Massage therapy and acupuncture were provided as a complement to Dr. Rao’s consult.

“Dr. Rao is truly, truly amazing,” said Matthew. “This was a renewed incentive to invest time in myself, to stop and breathe, and that’s been incredibly powerful for me. The difference between last year and this one is indescribable. I’m very grateful to him.”