A Personal Status Report

January 24, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

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After a crazy month, I can finally report that our household is getting back to normal. Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, my husband has been feeling better than he has in months and has just gone back for his first day at work.

Since he’s a medical intern in a specialized cancer training program, he’s spending this month learning how to perform breast cancer surgeries. Of course, I didn’t figure that part out until I asked him why our kitchen table was covered with cartoon renderings of anatomically-correct breasts. He’s missed a couple of weeks on what surgeons apparently call “breast service,” so he’s been spending the last few days trying to study from as many resources as possible (hence, our newly-decorated table). I’m seriously amazed at how the internet has revolutionized teaching — did you know that there are videos of live cancer surgeries available?

Now that he’s back at work, I’m finally picking up where I left off a month ago. I had gone on a number of job interviews this past December, but I had been waiting to accept an offer on a full-time job due to last month’s events. Yesterday, I finally accepted a position as an epidemiologist studying cancer genetics.

I was really blessed to have been offered the opportunity to work as a scientist in some incredible research laboratories. However, in the last few years, I’ve been finding more personal fulfillment in patient education. As an epidemiologist, much of my new job be recruiting newly-diagnosed cancer patients and their families into long-term studies. The purpose of this is to help trace heritability of a particular syndrome that predisposes individuals to a number of different cancers. Results of these studies will help family members better understand their risk for developing cancer and be more vigilant with their cancer screenings. The opportunity to educate individuals about cancer prevention on a more intimate basis is intriguing to me, and I’m excited to make my impact in eradicating cancer in a new way.

Even though I’m leaving the fold, I have a deeper respect for bench top scientists than I’ve ever had before. Last week, I learned that the treatment that my husband has been taking for his Crohn’s disease had only received FDA approval a few months ago. Prior that that, the options available were not only much less effective but also had such undesirable side effects that patients would rather refuse treatment.

To all graduate students, laboratory technicians, research assistants, principal investigators and clinical trial coordinators that study any human disease or disorder, THANK YOU. I know what it’s like to be on that end, sacrificing your weekends and holidays to crank out another batch of experiments. It seems like a thankless job, but every step made is a step in a right direction. Also, a big THANK YOU to anyone who’s gone through a clinical trial. Your participation is a brave but crucial step in the development of new treatments, and I’m humbled by your contributions.

That’s it for this diary entry for today. Thanks to everyone who’s sent out their prayers and kind words — you don’t know how much they’ve helped. I’m excited about the content coming up in the next few weeks here at Battling Cancer, so please stay tuned!

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2 Responses to “A Personal Status Report”
  1. You should have seen the look on my face when I saw him studying those pictures. I was so confused.

  2. Julie says:

    You know, if my husband had a table full of breats, it’d just mean he was eating a ton of chicken. 😉

    I hope that people really understand what these students, workers, and test subjects do for the rest of us. Lovely post.

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