Toronto

YWCA honours doctor working to make fertility treatments accessible to all

Dr. Marjorie E. Dixon advises the government on improving fertility treatment access

Marjorie E. Dixon

Dr. Marjorie E. Dixon says girls and women need to work on overcoming self-doubt. As a reproductive endocrinologist, she advises the government on improving fertility treatment access. (Marjorie E. Dixon)

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Dr. Marjorie E. Dixon is one of seven women being honoured by YWCA Toronto as 2017's 'Women of Distinction.' The reproductive endocrinologist works to create opportunities for everyone — regardless of gender, race or orientation — to start a family. She also advises the Ontario government on how to improve access to fertility treatment .

CBC: How does it feel to receive this award?

Marjorie Dixon: My initial reaction is, I think I'm too young to get this award! But the other part of me feels honoured to be recognized for doing what I have zeal for and what I love. It's unbelievable but it's a distinctive honour and an absolute pleasure. People every day hate their jobs. They feel that they wish they made other decisions in their lives. They wanted to do something; they want a change, and I don't feel that. I feel like I'm just beginning to get into my stride.

What do you do with the energy that being honoured in this way brings you?

It motivates me and it inspires me to keep doing what I do and to do more. I feel a huge debt to my parents and to Canada, where my parents immigrated to from Jamaica. They constantly told me, 'Education and social responsibility.' They said, whatever you do, you have been blessed with ability, you have been blessed by the accident of birth, and you have a responsibility to give back to this nation and to people in general. My parents always told me that what I have were gifts, and it's not about how much I can accumulate in life, it's what I do as a person, as an individual, to give back. Even as a child I was told that I had power. That's why I feel this is my opportunity to keep that chain moving, to pay it forward, to do my bit, and to be motivated to do what I do. This may give that example to other young women.

What moments got you started on your path towards being a doctor and working in fertility?

There were a couple moments. My dad was a biology teacher at a private boys school. And in the summer, he had a lab where he had to feed algae and he had a variety of specimens. One I remember was a disemboweled rat, and I remember asking questions and saying. 'What is that, why does it look like that?,' and he explained it to me. And the other moment was in high school, at a library period, it was the 10th anniversary of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby's birth. I remember reading about it and I was gripped; it became my passion, I went to my guidance counsellor and said, 'This is what I want to do.' She came back to me and told me what I had to do to get there. And I was like, 'Okay, that's what I'll do.' And I was on a mission.

What do you want to focus on in the years to come?

I would like to start a non-profit organization that serves to help promote and inspire young women. That is something I've wanted to do for a while. We're starting a co-op program in affiliation with McMaster University. We just put out our first description of the role, and we thought we'd get five to 10 applicants. We got 30. I feel like I have a platform and I have to be able to bring to fruition all those things that I can to help inspire other women to do what I do, and maybe not just even in my health sector but in accounting, government, the legal sector. Something I want to say to women is that it's easy to be encumbered by self-doubt because that's kind of how we're programmed. Women have to get rid of that instinct.

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