What I’ve learned from cancer.

Yesterday, I finally submitted my thesis. It’s hard to believe that this is really the end of my 2 year M.Sc. experience. As much as I want to talk about the fun stuff, like the dramas at the lab and all the struggles and triumphs, I feel like there is something more pressing to say; something that really struck me a while back. I’m going to talk about cancer. Cancer is a broad topic and there is a lot I can say about what I’ve learned. My master’s project involved breast cancer genomics and chemotherapy resistance. I’ve learned so much about the different types of breast cancer and gene mutations. However,  I won’t talk about what I’ve learned about cancer. I will share about what I’ve learned from cancer. Aside from the nitty gritty details, cancer is a much bigger picture. There is a really weird feeling to be working for a supervisor who is also a breast surgeon. In our lab, we deal with many patient biopsies, blood and surgical samples. The identity of these patients are confidential and are always labeled simply by a code. We talk and discuss about their cases professionally, as we should, but by being exposed to this everyday, sometimes it slips my mind that these are actual women. Women out there who are currently struggling, or whom have already passed away. Women who are mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters; women who have people they love and are loved in return. When I make the journey to the breast clinic at the Jewish General, I see so many people in the waiting room looking just like you and me. You couldn’t even tell they have cancer. Continue reading