Meet Peter Mansour, Pharmacist, Walgreens Centralized Services Support Operations
To mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month and American Pharmacists Month, learn more about how living with muscular dystrophy has developed one pharmacist’s sense of empathy and wanting to help others.
I started my career as a pharmacist in Walgreens Centralized Services location in Orlando, Florida, in April, so I’m relatively new to the company. But I know from my short time here that there’s a longstanding mission to help people, which has significant meaning to me. I strongly believe that mission begins with pharmacists, who provide access to healthcare for many in this country. They certainly have done that for me along my health journey.
I have lived with muscular dystrophy (MD) since I was diagnosed at age 12. MD is a genetic degenerative disease that slowly weakens your muscles and can make everyday tasks difficult. When I got the diagnosis, my life changed from a boy who loved to play basketball, run and lift weights to someone who progressively lost that ability over the next few years. MD changed my life, but it didn’t ruin it.
Living with muscular dystrophy
MD is pretty rare, affecting about 250,000 people in the U.S. When I was diagnosed, I was just a kid, so I didn’t understand what I was going to go through. As time passed, I lost more and more of my ability to function. The hardest thing for me was not being able to walk anymore, so I made the decision to use a wheelchair when I was 19, and I’ve been using it ever since.
People ask me if I feel I’ve missed out on things in my life because of my disease. I tell them I don’t think it’s prevented me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do. I graduated from pharmacy school and am now a pharmacist at Walgreens, which was a major goal of mine. Sure, some things have been more difficult to accomplish, like the physical and mental demands of pharmacy school, but I’m convinced the struggles I’ve experienced in my life have made me a better person by pushing me forward and not allowing myself to give up.
I was born in Egypt and came to the U.S. with my family when I was 9. Like most immigrants, my parents were searching for a better life, and we found it when we settled in Florida. I feel very fortunate that my parents brought our family here when I was young because having MD in Egypt would be really challenging. There are not a lot of healthcare resources for people like me who have a disability and are in a wheelchair. My life’s not easy, but I feel like if I was still there, it would be much harder.
A typical day on the job
I work the 1 to 10 p.m. shift, so I have time early in the day to dedicate to the other things I enjoy. Before I go to work, I make sure to exercise for at least an hour every day, using resistance weights and a balance ball to build strength and get my heart pumping. With MD it’s important to keep up with exercise and physical therapy so I can stay functional.
I love binge-watching TV series and playing video games, and I usually make time to do that in the morning between exercising and when I leave for work. I live with my parents, and since I’m unable to drive, they’re great about taking me to and from work and wherever else I need to go. I’m able to get in and out of their car without much difficulty, so they don’t need a special wheelchair-accessible vehicle. And my mom always has dinner waiting for me when I get home.
Although I’m a pharmacist in a centralized office, I still do much of what Walgreens pharmacists do in our stores—like consulting with patients and prescribers and filling prescriptions. I connect over the phone with patients and doctors from across the country to counsel them on medications, check their medication history so there are no adverse reactions, and help them adhere to their proper regimen and dosing. The pharmacy team in Centralized Services adds another valuable layer of care for our patients and helps free up pharmacists in stores to spend more time with patients while we fill prescriptions remotely. This is especially important at this time of year when we see some of the highest rates of respiratory illnesses and seasonal vaccinations.
Finding my life's purpose
I‘ve always been a goals-oriented person, and they’ve motivated me throughout my life and helped me get through some tough times. Pharmacy school was difficult, so it required patience and hard work to make it through, but I live by the old saying “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” I thrive on conquering challenges and believe there’s nothing I can’t overcome.
Becoming a pharmacist has given me the financial freedom to do more of the things I love, especially traveling. I’ve traveled throughout the U.S., but I also want to travel the world and enjoy the natural beauty of places like Italy and Switzerland, which are the destinations at the top of my bucket list. But anywhere with beaches, water and mountains makes me happy and is where I like to spend my time.
From the time I decided to enter school to become a pharmacist I knew my life’s purpose was to help people. Living with a degenerative disease like MD is hard, but it’s especially difficult when you’re diagnosed as a child and can’t possibly comprehend how it will impact the rest of your life. And like me, many MD cases are diagnosed in children, so they and their parents really need help and guidance to understand what they’re going to go through.
I’ve spent more than half my life taking medications to manage my condition, so I have a lot of empathy for patients because I know how difficult things can be if you don’t have someone advocating for you and your health. I’m motivated by the goal of not allowing a single patient to feel alone or helpless, because I’ve gone through something similar.
I’m a Walgreens pharmacist who happens to be living with MD. So, while my disease has weakened my body, it’s made me a stronger person, and, I hope, a better pharmacist who’s making a difference in people’s lives.