I grew up with four sisters in a small city in Florida called Ocala. With my dad as a chiropractor and my mom as a pharmacist, I became interested in health care at a young age. I also loved math and physics, so I decided to study biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. I ultimately decided to go into medicine because I saw how special and privileged the patient-doctor relationship was.
Why did you go into radiation oncology?
As a senior biomedical engineering student, I took a design course in which I was randomly grouped with a radiation oncologist and a head and neck surgeon. We worked on a project using intraoperative point tracking and deformable image registration to better delineate post-operative tongue resection margins, with a goal of minimizing the volume of high dose radiation targets. I instantly loved radiation oncology from an engineering perspective. When I started medical school at Vanderbilt University, I began shadowing in the radiation oncology department, and I also loved the clinical aspects of the specialty. I was drawn to how radiation oncology exists at the intersection of advanced technology and human experience.
Why were you interested in joining SPRO?
I became interested in palliative care as a medical student when I learned the importance of focusing not only on quantity of life but also quality of life. I had the opportunity to observe the implementation of an inpatient palliative radiation oncology service, and I saw the added value of having a dedicated radiation oncologist who can spend time discussing goals of care and prognosis with patients. I was interested in joining SPRO to continue learning how to best serve patients with incurable cancers.
Feel free to share on any projects that you have been working on that may be of interest to our members
Recently, I collaborated with the Department of Radiology to create a diagnostic CT protocol that can be ordered after-hours, when CT simulation is unavailable, and utilized to plan urgent radiation treatments. Currently, I am developing a surveillance protocol for patients after completing palliative radiation for painful bone metastases, with aims to catch new or recurrent sites of bone pain and prevent missed opportunities for additional palliative treatments.
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”