What is your position within the GCI and what interests you in this position?

Almira: I am a Gynecologic Oncology Sharing Hub Podcast Coordinator. I am involved in both the creative and technical aspects of podcast production. I enjoy the collaboration that happens within the GCI. Since the GCI has formed a network of leading researchers and clinicians in gynecologic oncology, in addition to patient partners, I am able to speak and learn from all these amazing people.

Madison: I am the Communications Assistant for the GCI. I’ve always had an interest in writing and sciences, so I love how this position blends them together perfectly. Since my degree in Integrated Sciences is purely sciences-based, I appreciate how this position encourages me to exercise my creativity and artistic skills. This position also allows me to connect with patients, researchers, and the greater community to shed light on the work being done in the gynecologic cancer sphere, which I think is really beautiful.

What do you enjoy the most about working at the GCI?

Almira: I have always been interested in knowledge translation and outreach strategies in health research. This position provides me with the opportunity to advance my knowledge in this area, while also expanding my skill set.

Madison: I like that I get to work with such a wonderful and diverse group of people because I’m constantly learning. Even though people may have different areas of expertise, it’s incredible how the multidisciplinary team of the GCI maintains such synergy. There is so much collaboration among researchers, trainees, and patient partners that you can truly see how much everyone cares for one another and their commitment to improving the lives of those with gynecologic cancers.

What are your career goals moving forward?

Almira: My long-term goal is to become a physician-scientist. I believe this path would provide me with the necessary clinical experience and perspectives needed to identify gaps in research and patient care to translate into research questions. As a newcomer to Canada, I admire the pace that which cutting-edge and evidence-based medical practices are being integrated into the Canadian healthcare system. At the same time being born and raised in Kazakhstan, I experienced the huge gap in access to evidence-based care in developing countries. These experiences developed my deep-rooted interest in global health and health equity. In the future, I hope I will be able to combine my passions for transformative research, patient care, and global health!

Madison: I hope to become a cancer genetic counsellor, so I am planning to pursue a Masters in Genetic Counselling after university. However, health and science communications have grown really near and dear to my heart, so I would love to continue in this field. In whatever position I end up in, I want to be able to provide physical and emotional support to patients.

How do you practice self-care?

Almira: Graduate school can be very stressful at times (most of the time). I always juggle around my research, part-time job, and several student committees I am part of. We all have super productive days and days where we barely do the minimum. Being kind to yourself during those “unproductive” days is key for me. Only a couple of months ago, I started to deliberately allocate self-care time in my day. I like to mentally prepare for the workday by waking up early, following my skincare routine, stretching, and making a nutritious breakfast.

Madison: For me, self-care means doing things that will keep me from looking at screens. Lately, I’ve been trying to get back into crocheting. I also love to cook and try out new recipes.

Almira, as a researcher, what impact does the GOSH podcast have on you?

Through the GOSH podcast, I get exposed to patients’ perspectives, which I don’t often get as a basic science researcher. I get a better understanding of how my research can impact patient care and the lives of individual patients. Cancer patient and survivor journeys remind me of the importance of my research and give me the motivation to continue.

Madison, what aspect of gynecologic cancer research is most intriguing to you?

Honestly, it’s really hard to pinpoint just one. The genetics-loving side of me is super fascinated by precision oncology and the idea of being able to tailor treatments to a patient’s molecular profile. On the other hand, I am also interested in survivorship. It’s amazing how gynecologic cancer research encompasses several considerations ranging from tumor makeup to psychosexual wellness– many of which may be interconnected in different ways.

GCI Team (Left to Right)
Jocelle Refol (former Communications Assistant), Almira Zhantuyakova (GOSH Podcast Coordinator), Stephanie Lam (Research Coordinator), Madison Estrella (current Communications Assistant)