A year ago one of my best friends went to the emergency room with abdominal pain. Her family was expecting that she had appendicitis, but instead heard the words every parent dreads: childhood cancer. She was diagnosed with a stage IV germ cell tumor and rushed into emergency surgery, which was quickly followed with a chemotherapy regimen. The catalyst in this diagnosis was the imaging results: they indicated that there was something much more serious than appendicitis going on. I came back from school the following weekend and remember pouring over the black and white images with her mom, squinting as we gestured inconclusively to the lighter areas that indicated the cancer, and the organs that had since been removed. I do not recall whether I was looking at MRI, CT, or ultrasound results, or perhaps all of them, and this uncertainty mirrors my lack of understanding of cancer imaging: I do not know what I am looking at, but I want to. I aspire to become a physician and specialize in either oncology or traumatic brain injury. I recognize that in many cases before I treat a patient, it is likely that I will rely on imaging to help determine a cause and propose treatment. This is what draws me to cancer imaging.
I am interested in research in cancer imaging because of the large role this technology has played in my personal life: it has become an academic curiosity and a discipline I am inspired to explore as a career. I am using NMR techniques as a tool for identifying compounds and their purity as a lab assistant, and am interested in MRI as an extension of this analysis relevant and valuable to the field of medical diagnostics. I am intimately aware of the importance of this work and the effect it has on cancer diagnosis, treatment, and outcome, and would value the opportunity to contribute to research in this field and better understand the research process that leads to the technological advances and clinical applications I have seen. The opportunity to work at MD Anderson doing diagnostic imaging research appeals to my career interests in medicine and research science, and my curiosity for the subject is grounded in personal experiences. Quite literally, this is the summer internship of my dreams, and hopefully the start to my career within the field.
Finally, I learned that Dr. Bilal Mujtaba, a Bowdoin alumni, will be my advisor at MD Anderson. He along with his colleagues created this position for me so I could have the chance to work in diagnostic radiology even after being named the runner-up for another summer position within the department. This is a kindness and unexpected generosity that I greatly appreciate, and I believe really speaks to Dr. Mujtaba and the alumni network’s support of Bowdoin students.
- Date December 5, 2018
- Tags 2018, Healthcare, Science