Am I going back to my profession?

Since more and younger people are diagnosed with cancer and due to the targeted therapy and other modern treatment available to effectively treat the disease, more and more cancer patients return to their professions. I am pleased to see it, and this shows cancer is really becoming a chronic disease not a terminal one. For me, going back or not going back to my profession, I have a different thought.

Since I was young, I always ran into the question: if I could live again, what would I do? The  answer is supposed to be that I would still want to become a scientist. It shows my strong feeling that I love my career and I want to change nothing-a scientist again. As I became older, I see this answer again and again from those successful people, still want their professions.

Actually from the 1st time I heard this question, I thought secretly that if I could start again, I would live totally differently. Think about it, how boring would it be to live the same way if I could be given the opportunity at a second life. Even as I climbed the ladder to become an academic-scientist, I still occasionally daydream of being a theater director for stage drama or a food critique, though it really made me feel quite guilty that I am not completely devoted to my career.

Three years ago I was forced leaving my career due to cancer. Thanks for targeted therapy, I feel ok now, and I get a chance to change my career path. Last year, a professor, whom I respect a lot, wrote to me about his career before and after his retirement-a professor for ever. This made me think what I will do?

Although I enjoy staying home, it is not for me. Resuming my career occurred to me. After serious thinking, at this stage I don’t think it is an option. I am used to conducting large scale and impactful research projects, involving composing and reviewing in large competitive grant applications and participating in decision making in my related profession. But in order to resumed the work at this level, the mental strength and physical strength are beyond my reach.

Being a cancer advocates has up to my mind since one year ago. This is because 1) I was so intrigued by those scientists’ and doctors’ work on targeted therapy or immunotherapy. I think we are in a very exciting time that we are going to treat cancer as a chronic disease like AIDS 10 years ago or even conquer the cancer. 2) The cancer treatment team must be a multidisciplinary team, including an oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, therapist, and patient advocates etc. Creativity and knowledge come from collocations and can move the medicine forward rapidly. 3) This is the most interesting part, cancer treatment is really a healing art with science as foundation, unlike my previously profession’s thinking patterns, if A then B, logically beautiful but rather rigid. This leaves a lot of space for us to navigate though treating the cancer. Anyway, to be involved in this profession is very exciting.

I would not say that cancer give me the opportunity to change my career path, but this might be my fate.


My friend HaoPei (斐皓) is a Stage 4 lung cancer patient, 37 years old. This picture was taken by him when he traveled in rural China after his diagnosis.

One thought on “Am I going back to my profession?

  1. You could be a successful entrepreneur, then a philanthropist. Even a scientist, I’d like to choose a field that could impact human life positively. I would definitely choose a different career path for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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