Dec 5, 2018
Dr. Arti Hurria, ASCO board member, talks to her patient and friend, Margaret Sedenquist, about her career and what inspired her along the way.
Arti, how did you happen to decide to become a doctor?
Both of my parents had immigrated to the US, and both were doctors. So growing up, I was surrounded by medicine pretty much day and night. They were either studying or on call or taking calls. And so I really was immersed in the field from the very beginning and felt like the natural path that proved to be the right one.
How did you happen to go into geriatrics as such a young person?
I was incredibly fortunate. I had a mentor who was a geriatrician. And she had this love of caring for older adults. And I acquired that through watching her interact with her patients. That beautiful relationship that you develop with someone and learn about all that they've been through was very appealing to me and the idea that you were going to travel with them through the end of their life. I knew I wanted to be an oncologist, though.
How did that come about?
My mom was a radiation oncologist and loved her field. And I was exposed to oncology also during training. And it was the same type of love, this chronic care for someone during a really challenging part of their life and walking on that journey with them, just the beauty of having the honor to do that. So I wanted to be an oncologist. I knew I wanted to care for older adults. Hence, the two fellowships, geriatrics and oncology.
At that time, it was almost viewed as being perhaps unfocused in some way because I was choosing two different fields. Why couldn't I just settle on one? But I had a great mentor who said, you can do it. Why not? That's something that's needed. And she encouraged me to do the geriatrics and then go into oncology. And that proved to be a really wise piece of advice.
So from there, it really was a launch of a career and research in this field. I always loved taking care of patients. So my research was based upon the questions that patients were asking me, things like, tell me based upon who I am as a whole person age being just one small part, how should we tailor my treatment? And what's my risk of side effects? It was those patient-driven questions that drove a whole research career.
And I can speak from experience that you've been successful at it because I've have been your patient. And you did do exactly that. I know that your research is effective.
The greatest part about being a doctor is getting to know patients like you. It really doesn't get better than that, the chance to get to know someone, to walk with them during a period of their life over years, and to share one another's lives, and watch you age successfully and with such grace--
I beg your pardon.
Well, you've also mentored other doctors doing research.
An important part of being a doctor is to pass on both the clinical skills and the research skills to the next generation.
I'm so glad that you chose geriatric oncology and that I was fortunate enough to come along when you were there.
Yeah, it's been a decade together. What a wonderful decade it's been.
I'm very grateful to you. I just know that all your other patients are as fortunate as I am. And I'm delighted that we're friends.
The honor is truly all mine.