Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your academic background?
I am one of the Radiation Oncologists at the BC Cancer Agency in Kelowna. My job is to treat cancers of three disease sites: breast cancers, gynecologic cancers, and genitourinary cancers. Prior to residency, I did a Master‘s in Bioethics. Following residency at the UofT, I completed my fellowship at Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre in 2018. My fellowship was mainly focused on brachytherapy for gynecological cancers, which is the application of internal radiation, particularly for cervical and endometrial cancer. I started my work as a radiation oncologist at BC Cancer Surrey in 2018, and in 2021 I moved to BC Cancer Kelowna to join the team here.
Q: How did you become interested in this field?
I became particularly interested in brachytherapy during my residency due to its efficacy as well as the technical complexity it carries. With brachytherapy techniques, a macroscopic tumour could be targeted to provide a sufficient radiation dose which is, in some cases, not feasible through external radiation means. These high doses provide a high opportunity for cure. From a research perspective, I became interested in clinical trials, population-based research and policy aspects of it as a result of my interest in answering clinical questions at hand.
Q: What has been a challenge in your career?
A key challenge has been finding the balance between clinical duties and research. On the one hand, we need to be sure that we are offering the clinical service that is needed for our patients. At the same time, as a researcher, you would like to answer the questions that address the well-being of the patient population as a whole, not necessarily just the patient that you’re seeing in your clinic.
Q: What is your favourite part about your work?
The favourite part of my practice as a clinician is when I step into the room and give my patients good news about their treatments. Although it gives my patients reassurance, it also gives me joy to feel that we have accomplished something very important. From a project’s point of view, I really feel happy when something that I’ve been a part of improves either the perspectives or the practices. We all hope that the final product of our work in any project allows for the needle to move even a little bit.
Q: What advice would you give to researchers just getting started?
I think resilience is so important with the amount of competition there is between research projects and the resources available. For everyone, there’s going to be rejections or criticisms, which in a sense leads to growth and improvement. If we do research because we really find value in what comes out of it then certainly that keeps us more motivated to face potential difficulties in the process.
Q: What current research are you working on? What’s next?
One of my projects with IC/ES in Ontario is looking into whether the number of patients who were treated with brachytherapy for cervical cancer in any facility translated into a difference in outcome. The other study is a randomized trial in collaboration with researchers in London and Sunnybrook in Ontario where we are trying to shorten the duration of radiotherapy for cervical cancer. Patients are split between the standard of care which would be five weeks of external radiation versus three weeks of external radiation, to see if there are any impacts on effectiveness.
Q: What has been your favourite travel destination and why?
During my residency, my family and I travelled to Montreux, Switzerland, where I was presenting at a conference. Montreux is a very beautiful and vibrant city, certainly with great food! There is a mountain called Rochers de Naye, and you take a train to the top and enjoy the perfect view of Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman). It’s so serene and beautiful. We also took the train through the Alps to Zweisimmen. Such a unique experience!