14 Oct 2016

Why I chose oncology

Earlier this year I read a piece on the ABC News website by Dr Darren Saunders, a Senior Lecturer in Medicine at the University of New South Wales.

In his article, Dr Saunders talks about the challenges and sacrifices that medical researchers endure, and notes that almost everyone in his field of cancer research has a personal motivation for being there.

Early in my career, I met a patient in the early stages of breast cancer. Initially seeing someone discover they had breast cancer was confronting. Over time I observed this patient’s ability to overcome each challenge placed in front of her. I shared her journey; I saw her prepare for her cancer battle and her attitude to live on and not give up was inspiring. It was that experience that lead me to choose this field of work.

One of the hardest parts of my job is having conversations with people to assist them in facing potentially life-changing surgery, and helping them to understand their options at such a difficult time.

In peoples’ cancer journeys, it is important they have helpful, constructive experiences when facing their diagnosis and being presented with options, and that they are led towards the best possible journey for healing.

The best moments of my career are when I can tell patients they are now cancer free. But the most rewarding element is experiencing that same journey and fight of that first patient over and over – that is my personal motivation.