Why I Became a Paediatric Oncologist

  • Edwina smiles for a photo with Kieran
    Edwina smiles for a photo with Kieran

Kieran, Marketing and Communications Manager, met Dr Nihad at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital when visiting Ghana earlier this year and here's what they spoke about;

It’s late in the day and many of the families have left to their homes or the mother’s hostel but young Edwina remains as she plays in front of the desk. Dr Nihad speaks to Edwina with a grin, telling her that she is about to do some work but Edwina doesn’t want to leave so settles down quietly on a nearby chair. Dr Nihad smiles and begins;

“The last 12 years have been wonderful, it has been brilliant.”

Qualifying as a Medical Doctor in 2006, Dr Nihad explains that she took an alternative route to the realms of childhood cancer care;

“I didn’t see myself working with children when I first began studying towards my medical exams. I had no intentions of doing so but as with many things in life, things change! As a medical student you must complete four rotations in various sectors. Each rotation is six months long and it was halfway during my paediatric rotation that really convinced me what I wanted to do.”

Dr Nihad paused as she said this, smiling and thinking back to her training days. It’s clear that this is the same smile that she carries to work each day, she continues;

"During my residency in paediatrics I noticed that the general ward, where childhood cancer cases were admitted along with other non-malignant diseases, was gradually being take over by only cancer cases yet there were only two doctors trained to care them. I also realised that despite the stressful nature of the work on that ward, it was exactly where I wanted to wake up in the morning to go and work.

“Doing my paediatrics rotation was when I changed my mind, for some odd reason I didn’t want to examine adults anymore. I enjoyed working with children, it was amazing and even though I spent less time actually working with the children than I do now, I still knew it was my calling."

Despite her passion in caring for children, Dr Nihad explains the difficulties of working on a children’s cancer ward;

“It is very hectic, even during my rotation the days were long working from morning until night but there was so much joy I took in helping these children. Seeing a child come in very sick one day and even after 24 hours of care to see them looking healthier was incredible. There is no pretence with children, when they are well they are well and there is no in between.”

“Becoming a Paediatric Oncologist has been a blessing. I love my job and the children we support.”

Dr Nihad was speaking to World Child Cancer after the launch of a new three-year project to ‘Stop the Childhood Cancer Clock’. Funded by UK Aid Match the project aims to train more healthcare professionals, raise awareness of childhood cancer and reduce abandonment rates.

You can join Dr Nihad in supporting children with cancer by donating today.

About the author

Kieran Sandhu

Marketing and Communications Manager