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(1/4) When I was nine, my dad was diagnosed with an oncological disorder.  He was given six months to live, but he actually ended up living until I was nineteen.  I spent a majority of my childhood in and out of hospitals while he was sick, and because of that, I was able to see the significance of medical research in a way that many people probably don’t. I also watched how the nurses and doctors cared for him- and not just him, but my entire family.  It made a huge impression on me.  There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I was going into oncology.

(2/4) Being a mother has made me a better doctor.  I’m always thinking about what I would want, if it were my child who was sick.  And that, to me, goes beyond the “clinical” treatment. These parents want honesty.  We owe them that.  Sometimes, we don’t have answers. And if I don’t have the answer, then I tell them that. But I also promise them that I won’t stop working until I find it, because that’s exactly what I would want someone to do for my boys.  

(3/4) I was pregnant with my first child while I was doing my residency, and the attending physicians had warned me that I would never be able to view patients in the same way after he came. And boy, they were right.  When I came back from my maternity leave, I walked into a room to treat one of my first patients- a baby with infantile leukemia, who was about the same age as my son. I had to go and put myself in time-out because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold myself together while I was in the room.

(4/4) When you turn on the news, you see so much of the bad stuff.  But doing what I do gives me the chance to see so much good in people. These families are going through an unimaginable hell.  And yet, I get texts from them thanking me. I have pictures hanging up all over my office that these kids have made for me.  And it’s so humbling because they’re the ones in the trenches.  In my mind, they’re doing the heavy lifting.  I’ve watched some of these parents leave their own child’s bedside to go and be with the family of another child as they say goodbye to them. There is so much goodness, even in the midst of incredible heartache.

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