So, how did I get into healthcare and most importantly how did I get into radiotherapy and the world of oncology?
According to the National Cancer Institute, oncology can be defined as “a branch of medicine that specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It includes medical oncology (the use of chemotherapy, hormone therapy and other drugs to treat cancer), clinical oncology (the use of radiation therapy to treat cancer), and surgical oncology (the use of surgery and other procedures to treat cancer).”
As I mentioned in my previous post, I specialise in radiotherapy. I actually never wanted to do radiotherapy; if anything I actually wanted to do medicine initially and as a young lady, I did a lot of voluntary work over the summer holidays with a charity for young disabled people. I also did voluntary work for my local church and local businesses. I always had a passion for helping people and I enjoyed Maths and Science in school so I studied Maths, English literature, Human Biology and Chemistry in college (boring right?!).
Whilst applying for university, the harsh reality of University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), and the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) was instant. These are exams which most medical schools expect you to take in order to study medicine. To be sincere, I saw the questions from both exams and I was afraid, as well as fearful that I wouldn’t be able to pass the exams and wouldn’t be smart enough to get into medical school. Therefore, I decided to explore different professions within the medical field whereby I was still able to help people and enjoy what I do.
I was shortly informed about diagnostic radiography and I quickly enrolled in a day’s work experience to see what the job entails; during this experience I learnt that I wouldn’t have enough patient contact and if you know me, you will know I love to talk - I can talk for Africa! After the work experience, during a group session, everyone started sharing what they had learnt and a young lady started talking about how her mum had breast cancer and how it led her to study diagnostic radiography as she did not think she had enough courage to deal with cancer patients day in, day out. I became very curious about this “therapeutic radiographer” role even though I had already received my university offer for diagnostic radiography.
I researched and researched and it became something I really was interested in; however, it was too late as I had already accepted other university offers and I couldn’t change my course. I gave up on the idea and accepted my fate as a diagnostic radiographer. Little did I know what God had in mind for me. On results day, I got grades lower than I expected (I didn’t fail ooooo).
I couldn’t believe it, I was refused my university offers. During results day, I was so heartbroken and distraught, left with no university place. I had to start applying to different universities for any course. I remember crying thinking, what do I do now? My mum consoled me and encouraged me to apply for radiotherapy at another university. I really did not want to apply for the university I went to, simply because of pride as I felt I worked too hard and wanted to go to a prestigious university; however, I’m so thankful that I did (my university story is a story for another day).
Honestly, during my final year I did not think I would be using my degree; if anything, I thought I would use my degree to get a job in the city, work hard, earn lots of money and live a baby girl lifestyle (lol). I have been qualified since 2016 and I’ve consistently been working as a therapeutic radiographer and it’s been amazing most of the time. My highs and lows are outlined in a previous blog post.
So when people ask me why oncology, I simply answer, it was destined to happened. A simple incident opened so many opportunities for me such as my charity (Cancer Education UK), guest speaking opportunities, content and product reviews and also this amazing blog.
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