Monday, July 22, 2013

A Cancerous World

Today was a day full of lectures and interesting things. I woke up refusing to get myself out of bed and hung back for as long as I could. Eventually I had to get up or else I wouldn't make it to breakfast or class for that matter. The day started with a gloomy rain and the temperature was cool enough for me to wear a hoodie around. Even after it stopped raining all the trees around campus caught enough water to create a second shower of rain.

The class started with an extremely awesome suturing lesson. Jon was the leading instructor this time because he was really good at suturing. We started with an interrupted stitch which is a stitch where you cut the suture each time you make a knot. I found it really hard to do because I felt that it was both time and material consuming. Then we learned how to do an instrumental stitch, so instead of using our hands to make the knot, we used the clamp. I have had a lesson in suturing before so I was familiar with the instrumental stitch and the running subcuticular suture which was the next method Jon showed us.

The running subcuticular method is when you stitch under the skin so that suture marks are not visible and it is used when you want to have a good cosmetic outcome among other things. Then he also showed us a vertical mattress method which is used to better hold cuts together. I found this method to be hard also because I couldn't get the stitches to line up nicely. It was really hard to hold the clamp and the forceps and making them work together. I found myself using my bare hand a lot which was something that you should not do. I don't know how surgeons do it everyday or maybe it's the fact that they do it everyday that have them suturing so well. I just cannot get my stitches to line up symmetrically or to the correct depth.

After suturing we had an Intro to Cancer lecture by Dr. Joyce Johnson. At the beginning of the lecture she talked about what cancer is and what causes it. Cancer is a genetic disease that is the second cause of deaths in the U.S. It occurs when cells have an abnormal growth and those abnormally growth cells does not respond to the body as it should. Just like most other disease, the risk factor for cancer is obesity, diabetes, smoking, atherosclerosis, being male, old age, and family history. Dr. Johnson explains a bit more about the types of cancers and how likely it is for someone to get it.

Lunch came and went and before I knew it, it was time for class again. Today we were fortunate enough to have the Vanderbilt School of Medicine's Associate Dean for Admission, Dr. Jonh Zic, to come in and dispell some Med School myths. So a very common myth is that you have to be a biology major in order to apply to med school. Dr. Zic said that it's false and that many of the students they admitted has a major that is completely unrelated to science. As long as you are passionate about your major then that is all that matters. He also talked to us about the kind of activities that we should be involved in to make myself more competitive. As he spoke I sat there and planned what I want to do during college and when. The future planning lead to another thought, I'm barely out of high school and here I am planning on how to get into medical school! Heck, I already have my own career planned out, I just hope that I meet my own expectation and fulfilled all the checkboxes I created. 

Next on the schedule was an organ recital lecture by Dr. Alice Coogan, who is a pathologist. With her, she brought in some organs both cancerous and normal. The first thing she showed us was a uterus and I just couldn't get over how small it is! It was almost smaller than the size of a pair and I just couldn't imagine how a baby would grow inside of it. Then she showed us another uterus but this one had cancer, and the size and shape were really weird. She continued to show us different organs with cancers on it and it wasn't what I expected. We got to see kidney cancer, colon cancer, and esophageal cancer. I'm sure that my untrained teenage eyes did not see what the doctors see so everything looked pretty normal except for the strange color and abnormal growth. I just thought that everything would look different somehow. Like when I first heard of cream soda, I thought it would look like milk but it turned out to be a golden clear soda. Anyway, when Dr. Coogan showed us the kidney cancer there was an aorta attached to it and I got a chance to see what atherosclerosis looks like and I have to say that it looks nothing like it does in the pictures. Pictures usually only show one plaque buildup,  but in the real aorta I could see several. Then after the organs we had another lecture about Breast Cancer by Dr. Johnston. Breast cancer is a cancer that mostly occurs in women and can be caused if you have too much estrogen. It used to cause a lot of deaths but now, due to improved treatments and early detections breast cancer is more manageable. 

Sitting through the two cancer lectures today, I learned that I'm not as interested in cancer as I am in cardiovascular disease. If I wear to specialized in oncology, I would have to have more patients who are more likely to die than other categories. I know choosing the medicine will result in me seeing a lot of deaths but for some reasons cancer related deaths just make everything ten times more depressing. 

Unfortunately I will not get to go to the OR until Thursday but hey, at least I will have the greatest last day of class experience ever. 

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