Chief Resident, PGY-4
Rush University Medical Center
“The Dark Arts,” said Severus Snape, “are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, and indestructible.”
Although this excerpt by J.K. Rowling is taken from my favorite childhood novel, I have always felt that it is the most poetic description of cancer. Similar to the “Dark Arts”, cancer has been present for centuries, never stops attacking, and rapidly finds new resistance to evade treatment. No field in medicine throughout my career has captivated me quite like oncology.
Rowling continued, “Your defenses, must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the arts you seek to undo.” This quote portrays the perfect example of the work of Radiation Oncologists. To this day, I am thrilled by the unique challenges each patient encounter poses, the cutting-edge precision in radiotherapy planning, and the technicalities that go in treating each patient.
Similar to how no two cancers are the same, no treatment plan amongst patients is the same. Furthermore, I am fascinated by the extent of which research plays in order to combat these terrible diseases. It is truly exciting to be in a field that does not fear the unknown but rather appreciates the daunting task of treatment advancement.
In hindsight, I realize how lucky I was to have learned about radiation oncology. Like many, I had never heard of this field even after 2 years of medical school. During this time, my future brother-in-law matched into a radiation oncology residency program and encouraged me to learn more about the specialty.
Although my medical school did not have a radiation oncology department, I was able to shadow local community radiation oncologists while concurrently pursuing research opportunities at Emory. Additionally, I was able to secure away rotations at larger academic centers. I loved each of these experiences and by the time residency application season came around, I knew I was applying into the right field for me.
I had an amazing time interviewing for a residency position. I especially enjoyed meeting the other applicants on the interview trail, including several who I have now become close with. One very cool aspect of being a part of a smaller specialty such as radiation oncology is that you will definitely see your fellow applicants at future ASTRO Annual Meetings. Moreover, as someone who had lived on the East Coast his entire life, I found myself pleasantly surprised and excited to visit many cities and states that I never imagined living in before.
Before long, it was finally Match Day. I was thankful to have my immediate family, friends and now wife with me as this was truly a celebration of all their support throughout my journey. I remember the joy we all felt when I opened that envelope and found out that I matched at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Even now, almost 4 years later, that day still brings a smile to my face.