Saturday, November 7, 2015

Back on the Banks Sharing My Story

Last week, I was invited to speak to the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapter at Rutgers University. I drove up to the Busch Campus of Rutgers and parked across the street from the Medical School where the talk was taking place.

I was so pleased to be back on the Banks of the Raritan since both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were from Rutgers.

As the students slowly filtered into the auditorium I spoke to KN, a senior and my contact person for the group, about her plans for a career in medicine. Instead of standing at the podium and speaking as if I was lecturing I decided to sit in a chair at a table in the front of the room. It felt more comfortable sharing my story in that way. 

I then began telling my story, interspersing stats and information about symptoms and the importance of having surgery done by a gynecologic oncologist with how I felt when first diagnosed. I shared the hope my gyn oncs provided by simply saying they will do everything to make me well. I thought I would talk about 20 minutes but it ended up being closer to 35 minutes. As I finished my talk I told the future physicians that they should take the time to get to know their patients, and ask them what their goals for the future are. I also told them that they should to be ready to work with others - pharmacists, social workers, nurses to provide the best care for their patients. 

When  I finished my presentation I asked if anyone had questions. One student asked if I ever got upset or angry with my doctors. I told them the only time I ever got upset was when I had to wait for my CT results. I told them of the time when I was in treatment for my recurrence. I had tried everything to stay calm but eventually ended up calling the social worker and asked her to intervene to get me my results quicker. Waiting for results is difficult but it has become a little easier now that  results are posted quickly to health records which can be accessed through a patient portal. 

As I gathered up the extra symptom bookmarks and CDC booklets I had brought with me, a few students came up to chat. One young man talked to me about the importance of nutrition for good health. Then a young lady told me she was planning to become a OB/GYN but will now consider becoming a Gynecologic Oncologist after hearing about my relationship with my gyn oncs. That comment made my night. Maybe in 10 years or so I will be reading about this young lady starting her career as new gyn onc in NJ.

Every Day is a Blessing

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