Thursday, 12 July 2012


Rosemary and colleagues on the Medical School steps with at least three years represented.
Student days are a bit of a blur but I remember 6 girls crowded round a body in the dissecting table
 ( Sheila Amin, Sue Henry Jenny Shewin, Carol Slack, Rosalind Smith and myself);  incomprehensible biochemistry with fierce Aggie Shaw; making dead fog’s legs jump, directed by Prof Sparrow;   nerve wracking walks back to Snowsfields, where the female students “on take in” were housed above psychiatric outpatients, wondering if a patient might have been left behind;   bicycling round the district to deliver babies hoping the midwife would get there first;  firm dinners; strawberry and champagne parties on the Regents canal given by Jack Hunt for those who took part in his various studies which often involved swallowing tubes before breakfast or sometimes late at night  (I heard years later, that when older,  JH insisted on lying on the floor for passport photos so the wrinkles didn’t show!)
I was very fortunate in my career. I never planned, it just happened; I seemed always to be in the right place at the right time. During residency I enjoyed helping Anne Chamberlain do out of hours pathology, then part of Prof Butterfield’s house physician duties, so when a resident post in pathology was created I applied.   As histopathology was not then part of the rotation at Guy’s I went to do this at Cambridge and stayed with it.    Four years on, the new Professor of Pathology at Stanford University California, having dismissed all the old staff, was looking for temporary recruits while he built up his new staff, so I went there. During my 2 Californian years Iris Hamlin from the Royal Marsden Hospital visited and suggested I applied for a research post at the RMH when I returned to the UK.   While I was at the RMH, Guy’s created a joint Consultant Histopathology post at The Hedley Atkins ICRF Breast Unit (named after Chip’s father), then housed at New Cross Hospital, with general Histopathology at St Olave’s Hospital.   When both these hospitals closed I moved to Guy’s where the Breast Unit Lab was initially housed in an old lavatory block in New Guy’s House (inevitably nicknamed The Lavoratory), only moving some years later to the Tower, where it now is .

I spent 21 very happy years in the Breast Unit. I was extremely fortunate to work in one of the first truly multidisciplinary departments with stimulating and supportive colleagues. Although I retired early in order to spend more time with my husband,  I continued to do locums and take part in research projects for many years and even now I still go in to Guy’s on a very irregular basis to help select cases for research and teaching.
My husband John, who was a solicitor (I did not take Joe Meyer’s advice!), sadly died 7 years ago, 2 years after my sister in law Roz (Rosalind Smith married my brother Andrew) who died only 9 months after retiring from nearly 30 years of enjoyable and rewarding general practice.
Rosalind Smith  between  Rosemary and John.    Andrew on the left with his and Rosalind's  children.                              Roz's daughter has inherited the red hair !

John with Rosemary with 1923 Alvis arriving at Deauville

John and I spent much of our time in France, either in vintage cars or on vintage boats,
or latterly in our house in south west Burgundy. Now my brother Andrew has a house there and he bought our old Dutch barge, so I have the use of
both without the responsibility for either! 

The Dutch Barge 
   My days still seem to be very full although I often wonder why.  Time passes more quickly in later years.
I enjoy life in the Essex village where I live but my 2 brothers my stepdaughter and family and Roz and Andrews children all live west of London so I spend a lot of time on the M25 !       
I agree with others who say we were lucky to have trained at Guy’s,  particularly as it was then and to have practised medicine when we did.  Times have changed - may be for the better?!       But I'm glad I was there when I was!                Rosemary Millis

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