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Dr. Alison Conlin
It’s funny that when people ask what I do and I say ‘I’m an oncologist, I give chemotherapy to women with breast cancer’, they usually remark on how hard that must be and make their best empathetic face. I find myself next having to convince them how great my job is and how much I love it.
The truth is I do love being an oncologist, a breast cancer oncologist, who spends most of the time caring for patients and the rest focusing on research, new drugs and new ideas to help make things better for people with all stages of breast cancer. It’s the combination of loving the science, the fast moving, ever changing paradigms and data that comes with cancer research and loving people. Specifically during cancer care, whether at diagnosis or end of life, an intimacy develops that is not seen in other specialties.
I feel, at times, that I’m a part of one of the most important things that has ever happened to this wonderful, vulnerable person (and family) in front of me. I love explaining how the latest research, the presentation I ‘just heard’ applies to a patient. I love hugging a patient who I treated so many years ago that they knew me before some of my kids were born.
I love talking to my colleagues about new trials, new opportunities to do better. I love it all. So those new acquaintances can save the empathetic face for someone else. Being a cancer doctor is the right job for me.
-Dr. Alison Conlin