It's National Radiologic Technology Week! Meet our RTT students
National Radiologic Technology Week is Nov. 3-9, 2019. In celebration, we're introducing you to WSU Applebaum Radiation Therapy Technology students, who are learning to treat cancer with technology and compassion. Read about their inspirations, goals and insights in their own words below.
I have a passion for helping people. I want to make a difference in someone’s life. Being on the front line of cancer for patients is the most honorable thing I could ever do. Having the ability to give someone a better quality of life. I absolutely adore my patients, not only are we treating them but we are that support system for them too. Day by day I see them regaining their health and the appreciation they have on their last day of treatment is what drives me every day to be the best radiation therapist I can be.
I have always been passionate about the health care platform and interaction with patients. After experiencing the loss of my father, who had pancreatic cancer, my compassion has grown more strongly toward cancer patients and I was inspired to become a radiation therapist. After my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we spent a lot of time for his treatments at the University of Michigan Cancer Center where I also had the chance to meet other cancer patients and their families. Spending time with my father until his last breath, I was able to fully experience the suffering of this disease. There was stress, pain, sorrow, fear, anger, sadness, hopeless and misery that he had gone through and I was there with him witnessed the whole courses of the disease on him.
While having treatments at the clinic, my father told me that although he felt horrible with his disease, it was a pleasure to be taken care of by the nicest medical staff in the oncology department which made him feel at ease and more tolerable to pain and suffering. He also said to me: “You are the best child and best caregiver, I can imagine you could be such good hands to give a special touch to other cancer patients who are sick like me and help them to get through this horrible disease path.” When my father passed, it was the most difficult time of my life and I struggled to move on from all the grieving. However, I recalled who my father wished me to become, I use his wish as my motivation to successfully becoming a radiation therapist.
I chose to be a radiation therapist because therapists can see patients daily and throughout their treatment courses, from there, a special relationship formed and a sense of trust also developed. I think it is very joyful to treat patients and seeing them complete their treatment course and get better after. For patients with terminal illnesses, it also gives me a sense of empathy to be part of the care team that helps ease patients’ pain from the treatments and being on their side when they are going through their most difficult stage of the terminal disease. Since I started the radiation therapy program, I have always been passionate about learning all aspects of radiation oncology. Every day at clinic, I see every patient as my father and that allows me to take care of every patient with all my heart and compassion.
Radiation therapy is a very exciting field of work to be a part of. Saving lives is a very humbling experience and knowing I get to contribute to the well-being of cancer patients makes all the ups and downs of this field so worth it. Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses radiation to eliminate cancerous or abnormal tissue. There are a few different reasons a person may be prescribed radiation. These reasons are curative, palliative, and prophylactic. People being treated curatively are treated with the hopes of curing their cancer, people being treated palliatively are most often being treated to help ease pain, and people being treated prophylactically are being treated to prevent metastasis to other areas of the body, most commonly the brain.
I chose the field of radiation therapy because I want to help people. I have always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, and when I looked further into the field of radiation therapy, I knew it would be a perfect fit for me. Although this field can be emotionally draining, it is also every bit uplifting and rewarding. We see our patients daily, usually for long periods of time (weeks to months), so patient interaction is a huge part of this field. Being able to form relationships with patients as you're helping them to get better is an amazing thing. They rely on us and trust us with so much, whether it be just their treatment, or day to day information about their families and lives, and being there for someone with a cancer diagnosis is instrumental in their overall well-being. This field could be the perfect fit for you if you love helping people.
To be honest, I didn’t even know that Radiation Therapy existed until about three years ago. While doing research about the healthcare opportunities that Wayne State University has to offer, I found Radiation Therapy to be the most interesting program as radiation therapy is a cancer treatment. As a requirement to apply to the program, prospective students have to shadow a few radiation therapists to learn more about the profession. During my clinical visits, I fell in love with the patient care that radiation therapists provided. Growing up wanting to be a doctor, patient care is the most important aspect of healthcare for me. Therefore, I chose radiation therapy for its patient care, and to be able to provide care and support for my patients.
The field of Radiation Therapy is a component of cancer treatments. It uses high energy electrons to emit radiation at a certain dose to a patient’s tumor, lesion, etc. This high energy aids in both curative and curable treatment options to patients suffering from cancer. Frequently radiation therapy can eliminate the tumor, but many times radiation therapy is also used with a combination of chemotherapy or surgery to significantly reduce the symptoms caused by the cancer.
I decided that I wanted to study Radiation Therapy when my uncle got diagnosed with lung cancer years ago and I was the person who took him to his daily radiation appointments. In high school, I always knew I wanted to do something medical related but never narrowed it down. When I began taking him to his appointments, I noticed how much happier he would be on a daily basis after leaving the clinic. After a couple weeks, I finally asked him why his mood changed so much when he went to his appointments and he explained to me how much of a difference one of the therapists was making his treatments. My uncle went into detail about how kind, hardworking, compassionate, and caring this therapist was and how comfortable she made him feel every day during treatment. At this point, I realized I wanted to be this person for someone. I was fortunate enough to attend a university that had the program and I looked into it right away. The information on the program and the job was everything I have ever wanted and more. With the perfect combination of math and science, and also being able to interact with the patient on such a personal level, this field was like a dream to me.
Since being accepted into the program, I have loved every second of it and can’t wait to further my studies and hopefully grow to be like the therapist that changed my uncle’s life.
For the majority of my life, I had no idea what a radiation therapist was. I definitely wasn’t planning on becoming one. However, after two years at another university, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. My father, a physics professor and researcher at Wayne State University spoke so highly of the school I decided to look into their programs and became fascinated by Radiation Therapy. It is not only a great field in itself but it has such great potential for moving up such as medical physics and dosimetry which I intend to pursue. A year and a half or so later I have now been accepted into the program and am almost a third of the way through the program and I couldn't be happier.
Learn more about the Radiation Therapy Technology bachelor's degree program at cphs.wayne.edu/rtt.