Back to the Beginning

Remember how I wrote that a book inspired me to finally accepting placement at med school?

Well, long before that, I had often said that if I were to study medicine, I would like to be an oncologist. I was a member of my school’s Interact club and spent a weekly afternoon with the kids at Paeds Oncology all through high school.

5763eb17ff00c8c6a9703b76d2bb9fe4I quickly changed my mind because everybody said it would be horribly depressing.

I think I’ve changed my mind (again).

During our radiology rotation, we spent a day at the oncological wing of the hospital (it’s kind of a mini-hospital on its own). In South Africa, radiation oncology and medical oncology are still sort of considered a single¬†specialty, unlike in much of the developed world.

Do you know what an amazing day it was (I mean, despite the fact that the registrars were very busy and forgot a little to teach us)?

Patients were so involved with their treatment plans. They asked questions (something I have to beg many of my patients to do). There is such a sense of solidarity among those patients. I saw a woman with stage 4 breast cancer, who has already had pathological fractures of the hip and the upper arm, and I was amazed because she had done her hair, and she looked so pretty, and I just thought, “If I were in that position, I would be holing up in my bed, awaiting the end”. Heck, I often hole up in my bed in anyway.

I spoke to my mom (who lost her father to lung cancer) and she says it really was that way, even in the hospice: there was this amazing understanding of life and death, and it was inspiring.

It is inspiring, and I remember why it lit the flame of interest back when I was young and impressionable.

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