I remember the exact moment the heavens opened. I walked into the operating theater and there before me, stood a surgeon and his team, easing someone’s pain. My destiny was set – I, too, was to become a surgeon.
My journey began many years ago when I was five. An 11 year old family friend died of Leukemia. I was sad. I cried. I wanted to know why my friend died. My father’s colleague, a doctor, drew for me a picture of white blood cells and then he drew the whole paper full of white blood cells. He explained that a cancer started when cells in the body grow out of control and invade the body much like the cells he just drew on the paper. I was fascinated.
A few years later, my grandfather was in the hospital with something called meningitis. I vividly recall the doctors looking for the infection on some fluorescent green screen. There was the outline of Grandpa’s body with many white dots on his back. His infection looked just like the white blood cells my father’s friend drew for me years before. But my uncle, a physician, explained the difference between cancer and infection. He even took me and my brothers into the hospital laboratory, swabbing our cheeks, and putting our cells onto a slide. Through a microscope, I was looking at my own cheek cells. Wow!
From that moment, the only books I read were about the human body. My dreams took me on many journeys through the human body. I was fascinated by the functioning of the human body, but I was more fascinated by the way cancer could ravage the body. Wondered filled my thoughts as I imagined myself alongside doctors in their battle to defeat cancer. I was enamoured by the idea of being a doctor and my favorite book became: Medical School: The Dramatic True Story Of How Four Years Turned A Class Of Raw Students Into Qualified Physicians by Daniel Drake. Today it rests in a prominent place on my desk.