PHOTOS COURTESY DR. PATRICIA GORDONPHOTOS COURTESY DR. PATRICIA GORDONPHOTOS COURTESY DR. PATRICIA GORDONPHOTOS COURTESY DR. PATRICIA GORDON

Dr. Patricia Gordon finds place in Big Sky

Continues to impact around the globe

Although a self-described Angeleno, Dr. Patricia Gordon has called Big Sky home for close to two decades as a homeowner, contributor to the community, and member of the Yellowstone Club. The mountain town drew her in the early 2000’s for its values and simplicity. Shortly after, she purchased a home in West Fork Meadow, a place to share the joy of pointing skis downhill with her children and grandchildren. “I didn’t want to be a part of an Apres ski area where women at lunch were more concerned about their makeup than ski conditions,” recalled Gordon.

Back in Los Angeles, Dr. Gordon ran her own medical practice as an oncologist, a doctor who specializes in the study and treatment of cancer. One day, a local screenwriter and TV producer named Leonard Hill caught her eye. Both Len and Patty had moved on from previous marriages so before long they took off.

After introducing Len to the mountains of Montana and the small community of Big Sky, they both decided to purchase a home and become members of the Yellowstone Club. “It’s not what you think it is...” told Gordon. “It [The Yellowstone Club) is a group of people that disdain Vail and Aspen because of the values it instills in their children... we pride ourselves at the club in wearing the same pair of blue jeans that we flew to Bozeman in the whole week.”

Big Sky became Patty and Len’s place, a vibrant community full of people who treated each other as equals and left their titles at the door. Throughout the year they split time between their communities in Los Angeles and Big Sky, chasing Vitamin D and fresh snow.

In 2013, while on a routine medical trip to Senegal with a group of other doctors, Dr. Gordon stumbled upon her new life’s work by accident. While at a remote clinic screening women for cervical lesions, an indication for a type of preventable cancer which isn’t common in the United States due to pap smears, Dr. Gordon realized she could treat these patients. However, the correct medical equipment wasn’t available. Following her intuition, she began searching for the equipment locally. She hit repeated dead ends. Four hours later and after a lot of headaches, Dr. Gordon found a closed clinic, slipped inside, and borrowed a cryotherapy gun and oxygen tank. She returned to treat the women, about ten of them, and quickly realized there was no way she could stop.

Over the course of the next decade, Dr. Gordon fell into the work deeply. Moving on from her 27 years of medical practice as a full-time oncologist, she developed an organization called CureCervicalCancer (CCC), which now serves nine countries, manages over 660 nurses, and supports around 100 sustainable clinics across the world.

“Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in countries where Pap smears are virtually nonexistent,” told Gordon. “We have a global epidemic: upwards of 300,000 women die every year from a nearly 100% preventable disease. Ninety-five percent of these women are in resource-poor countries living in extreme poverty. It was for these vulnerable women that I decided to act. I maintain fervently I cannot see the world and remain indifferent to it.”

Over time, while performing these screening procedures, Dr. Gordon realized that the local nurses and health care providers were much better equipped to treat and communicate with their patients. She started to leave the cryotherapy guns behind. She started to set up training sessions. Rather than rely on her team, CureCervicalCancer established a model to train and equip local healthcare professionals to fight against cervical cancer for years to come with minimal support.

All the while, despite losing the battle with his own health, Len supported Dr. Gordon. Sadly, Len passed away in 2016. Prior to his death, Len delivered a passionate speech to the Yellowstone Club community imploring folks to reconsider their role as locals, “We are no longer visitors in this community. It is up to each and every one of us to give back to Big Sky.” Dr. Gordon recently purchased a piece of land in Big Sky Town Center, which was slated for condominium development, and renamed it Len Hill Park. This same piece of property, which was purchased by Dr. Gordon, allowed the Big Sky BASE community center to be built.

When asked how this type of work has changed her view of the world, Dr. Gordon replied, “I’m going to tell you a story... My father was the inventor of the light weight built proof vest. He was the first person to take Kevlar and turn it into a bulletproof material. He had a company called Armor of America. So, as a child, and as an only child, he would drag me all over the world selling bulletproof vests. He would drag me from Oman, Jordan to the Bekka Valley of Syria into Lebanon. He would drag me all over the world. It is because of that, it is because I already saw the inequities of life, that more than anything else I wanted to do something on a global impact.”

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