How specialising in medicine helps to reconstruct lives.
At age 15, Samriti Sood volunteered at Westmead Hospital for a week during her school holidays. She was scared of doctors as a child, and the idea of cancer terrified her, but this fear also served as a driver for her to understand and learn more.
“I watched an operation and was totally gobsmacked by the skill and agility of the surgeons,” Samriti said.
“By the end of that week I decided I wanted to work in the exact field that scared me the most.
“My parents always dreamed big for me. They migrated to Australia from India with very little when I was eight years old. Even though my dad had a law degree, he took a job at a supermarket, and my mother did a paper run.”
Samriti’s parents were able to send her to a good high school, where she saw competition not as a threat, but as a challenge.
“If I saw someone doing well academically, I really looked up to them and wanted to replicate that for myself,” said Samriti.
“I’m so lucky to have been given many opportunities and a great education.”
It was this attitude that helped her to get into medicine at university and study surgery.
Samriti’s grandparents were refugees in India, fleeing Pakistan during the India-Pakistan Partition. Her grandmother was only allowed to go to school until she was 12.
“She would always say to me, ‘Knowledge is power, and without knowledge, you are empty’ which has served as a mantra to me throughout my life.”
After completing specialist training and the Graduate Certificate in Breast Surgery, Samriti now specialises as a Breast Oncoplastic Surgeon.
Samriti added, “Breast cancer affects all ages, from older women to young women who are, like me, really just starting out in their lives."
“I treated a young patient recently, a teacher in her early 30s with metastatic breast cancer. She was newly engaged and planning her life – a life that had never factored having to go through aggressive chemotherapy.
“I was able to walk her through a very challenging and vulnerable time. To me, medicine is about looking at people as a whole, giving them quality of life, and in the case of breast surgery, reconstructing them.
“As a medical student, and still today, every time I have the opportunity to be in an operating theatre I feel like a bird soaring in the sky. It is an absolute privilege to be a surgeon.”
Every time I have the opportunity to be in an operating theatre I feel like a bird soaring in the sky. It is an absolute privilege to be a surgeon.