Patience paves path for oncologist
Seah H. Lim
Occupation: Medical oncologist and blood and marrow transplant physician, Texas Oncology; senior scientist, cancer research program at Harrington Regional Medical Center.
Where did you receive your education?
High School: Malaysia and United Kingdom. College: Aberdeen University in Scotland for medical degree; Cambridge University and University of Wales for Ph.D.
How has your education played a role in your life today?
My education enables me to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients. Not only am I the only physician-scientist in Amarillo, I am also doing what I enjoy most: providing state-of-the-art care, including stem cell transplants, to cancer patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, and also conducting research to discover a vaccine for the treatment of cancer. My medical education has also taught me compassion that is essential in my daily contact with cancer patients.
What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?
My greatest educational challenge came during Ph.D. training, when I first stepped into the research laboratory and tried to hold a pipette and use other unfamiliar laboratory equipment. I broke a big piece of laboratory equipment in the first month. I overcame this by working even harder.
What is the value of your education?
Education has allowed me to spend my time doing what I really enjoy doing, caring for and saving the lives of cancer patients and advancing the treatment of cancer, yet still being fairly compensated as a professional. If I were to live my life all over again, I would live it just the same.
What would you say to someone who's undecided about continuing their education?
Education is the catalyst to doing something that brings you joy and determines the pathway of one's life. If you do not enjoy the subjects you are doing, it does not mean that "education" is not for you. There are hundreds of subjects available and, as long as you are determined, you will find one you will enjoy for the rest of your life.
When did you make education a priority?
I must admit I have never really said to myself that I have to make education my priority. I just do what I like, and the more I learn in my profession, the more I want to know.
What made you realize the importance of education in your life?
I realized the importance after I finished my education and training. I was offered medical oncology positions at any institution I was interested in, despite not being able to speak English as fluently as other candidates, because my education has equipped me competitively.
Did you ever think of quitting? What made you keep going?
I do very personally, including caring for cancer patients and helping them fight their cancer. It never crosses my mind to quit something that I do or abandon a cancer patient that I begin treating.