Oct 16, 2018
Li Shu Fan Medical Foundation Named Professor of Clinical Oncology and chair of Clinical Oncology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong); ASCO Board of Directors member; Special Awards Selection Committee member; Conquer Cancer Foundation Grants Selection Committee member; Journal of Clinical Oncology associate editor
What led you to oncology?
TM: I was accepted to the Princess Margaret Hospital program in Toronto in the late 1980s when there were limited treatment options for most cancers. To me, scarcity of treatment means only abundance of opportunities for future improvement. I embraced the opportunity and have never regretted the decision.
What’s the last book you read?
TM: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, and my own book (in Chinese), published in July 2018, which is a collection of articles from my newspaper column at Hong Kong Economic Times.
What hobbies do you enjoy?
TM: “Hobby” is defined as an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. For this I may have a bit of problem. There are many things I enjoy doing for pleasure but never have time to do them regularly. Top examples include skiing, scuba diving, and golfing, all of which I love but seldom have time for. On the other hand, I run regularly but find it difficult calling it a pleasure. Sadly or gladly, the one activity I do for pleasure and do regularly is working.
Do you have a personal motto?
TM: This is a motto as well as lyrics of a song by David Roth: “You can only do it while you are here…”
What career could you see yourself in if you weren’t an oncologist?
TM: I can tell you what I definitely would not be: a politician, a dancer, or a singer. I can also tell you what I want to be but unlikely to be successful: a sushi chef or a writer. Recently, I had a genetic test for talents and the recommended careers for me included doctor, surgeon, and dentist. I doubt that I could have stayed away from a career in health care.
What changes do you envision for the field in the next 10 years?
TM: We are in the process of converting advanced-stage cancer into chronic illness and I would hope that we shall see a significant level of success in the next 10 years. In the process we shall see greater segmentation of cancer according to genomic information. Immunotherapy may become a routine standard treatment and hopefully we will be able to select patients more wisely and understand the mechanism of resistance better.
What would you say to a young physician thinking about entering the field of oncology?
TM: This is just the beginning. We are at the beginning of being able to conquer cancer. Just like slaying a dragon, the first arrow has hit the target and it’s up to the young doctors to finish the job.