Thriving Faculty is a regular column highlighting individual or collective UBC Faculty who exemplify integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and/or communities. Thriving Faculty support others’ health and wellbeing in addition to making a commitment to their own self-care. This column highlights personal and professional stories of Thriving Faculty.
This month, we have received a special contribution for our Thriving Faculty column from Barbara Gobis, who is sharing her story as a cancer survivor as well as her unique insights into how she thrives at UBC, and in life.
Cancer is a Life Lesson
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41. I had no risk factors, no family history and I did not qualify for an early screening mammogram. Fortunately, my family doctor had decided to send all her female patients for a mammogram at age 40 to provide a baseline image for comparison in future years. As a health care professional myself, I appreciated my physician’s pro-active approach.
The mammogram itself was somewhat uncomfortable, but quick and otherwise uneventful. I was not concerned when I got the news that an area needed further examination with a higher magnification “diagnostic” mammogram. However, as I was wheeled into the operating room for the next procedure, a fine wire biopsy, a shadow of worry had started to form.
The results were not what I wanted to hear. The biopsy contained aggressive cancer cells. The good news was that they were localized. Two surgeries later, the cancer cells were gone and I entered the five-year follow-up and monitoring program.
Almost 10 years have passed now, and I can honestly say the cancer diagnosis, and what I learned in the following months and years, has made me a better person.
It didn’t matter why I got cancer, so I didn’t spend any time wondering. Instead, I got busy gathering information, talking to different people and taking charge of my care. My oncologist didn’t always agree with me, but he respected my decisions. A few years later I learned that patients who were actively involved in their cancer care decisions have better outcomes than patients who did not. Attitude and engagement really is everything!
With this cancer experience, I had my life-altering event early and now live in an enlightened state. I don’t care about the little things that really don’t matter. My time is my most valuable asset and I allocate the majority of it to my family, other good people and experiences that fill me up positively. I also minimize the impact of negative people and circumstances in my daily life.
My experience as a patient also provided me with unique insights that I draw on here at UBC in my role as the Director of the new Pharmacists Clinic at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. At the Clinic, we provide medication consultation services to people with questions or concerns about their medications. We also help student and pharmacist learners develop their practice skills. I call these skills the art of patient care – pharmacists using their scientific knowledge effectively and respectfully in the care of individual people.
It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of daily life and put off taking care of yourself, but nothing is more important than your health. Early detection saved my life and I am eternally grateful. __________________________________________
UBC Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Clinic
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. Many women believe that heredity is the most important factor in developing breast cancer; however, genetic factors account for only five to ten percent of diagnoses. Conversely, nearly half of all breast cancer diagnoses are due to preventable, non-genetic factors. The Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Clinic provides women with concrete tools to help them improve their risk profile, particularly by focusing on weight management, increased physical activity, good nutrition, and limited alcohol consumption. The clinic is a project of the Cancer Prevention Centre. For more information click here.
Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Workshop June 24th 2014 @12-1pm (Point Grey location)
Join Breast Cancer Prevention Lifestyle Counselor Bonnie McCoy in this Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment session – an interactive 45-minute education session that provides recent evidence about how to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Click here for information.
Barbara Gobis joined the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in April 2013 to develop, establish and oversee the ongoing success of the Pharmacists Clinic . Barbara completed her undergraduate pharmacy degree at the University of British Columbia, her Residency at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Toronto) and her Masters of Science in Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Toronto. Having worked for the past 25 years as an executive, consultant and agent of change, Barbara’s specialty is in developing, implementing and managing large-scale change initiatives within pharmacy organizations and front-line pharmacist practice.