Dr. Aline Lauda Freitas Chaves and Dr. Nirmal Lamichhane each share how the IDEA program shaped their careers as oncologists.
Part 1: Aline Lauda Freitas Chaves, MD, MSc
In 2004, I attended IDEA for the first time. Back then, my mentor was Dr. Lidia Schapira. I had just majored in oncology and big dreams were flowing around my mind. However, I felt powerless in how to bring my ideas to reality while working in the oncology field in Brazil, bringing my focus onto a specific specialty, and working on the development of it.
Taking part in IDEA opened my mind. I was able to offer great, cutting-edge oncology here in Brazil, as well as other parts of the world. During IDEA. I visited two hospitals—MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. These visits provided me with a better and wider view of comprehensive and multidisciplinary care that taught me how to fit this learning into practice.
Over the years, I have been implementing what I have been seeing and learning through IDEA in a customized way for a developing country like Brazil. The need for sub-specialization led me to head and neck oncology back in 2006. My goal was to spread head and neck oncology knowledge throughout my country. With this in mind, and with colleagues from all over the country, we founded the Brazilian Group of Head and Neck Cancer (GBCP) in 2017, of which I was the president from 2017-2019 and 2019-2021.
How could IDEA have influenced my professional life so much? It opened my mind, showing me all that I can do for a patient, regardless of where I lived. Through this vision, I paved my mission; my route in Brazil.
In addition to all of this, through IDEA I met my great and dearest friend Dr. Rachel Riechelmann.
IDEA was, indeed, a priceless experience.
Part 2: Dr. Nirmal Lamichhane, MCh
Indeed, it was a great eye opener for me to be an IDEA recipient and to join the oncology work force. When I applied, I was relatively unaware of the program, and was possibly in the 2nd lot applying from Nepal. I applied per the website guidance under the help of my senior, who was also an IDEA recipient, Dr. Bishnu Dutta Paudel. I wrote an abstract on sentinel node biopsies in breast cancer, which I learned about at Moffitt Cancer Center and was able to study further in Nepali patients. I was accepted to be an IDEA recipient and Dr. Steven O’Day was assigned to be my mentor. I was very happy. I still remember Dr. O’Day’s invitation to his house up in the hills and him showing us the house of Arnold Schwarzenegger across the hills. He took me to visit the hospital and clinic where he worked, and showed me a PET-CT machine for the first time in my life.
I visited John Wayne Cancer Center for few days in Los Angeles and flew to Florida for the ASCO Annual Meeting. I met Dr. Donald L. Morton, who was an expert on sentinel node biopsies at that time. It was very encouraging to learn further from the experts and bring the technology back home. I made friends with many IDEA recipients, as well and others at that conference. I also went to Tampa to meet my old mentor, Dr. Charles E. Cox. It was quite vivid and heartwarming.
After coming back to Nepal, I kept on pursuing my career in oncologic surgeon. I continued doing sentinel node biopsies in breast cancer, and I also did it in penile cancers. I spoke about its use at the Nepali patients in National Oncology and Surgical Conferences, which was very well received and admired. I also taught my methodology to many junior colleagues. I kept on growing, and steadily moved further in my career.
Now I am chairman of the Board of Directors at B.P. Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital where I work. I continue to encourage my colleagues to participate in international programs, especially the ASCO IDEA program. Many of the doctors from our hospital are IDEA recipients.
Now we move forward to develop our hospital into a center of excellence. As a bold step towards sustainable development, we have started educational programs for oncological surgeons, as well as other specialties, and plan to establish a PET scan center.
Dr. Chaves is the director of Grupo DOM Oncologia, founder and former chair of the Brazilian Group of Head and Neck Cancer, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group - Head and Neck. Disclosure.
Dr. Lamichhane is a surgeon at BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital in Bharatpur, Nepal. Disclosure.
2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the highly impactful International Development and Education Award (IDEA) from ASCO and Conquer Cancer. Read more perspectives from IDEA recipients.
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