Hello, my name is Bishal. Consider me your friend/colleague.
As I am writing these lines for my very first blog for ESMO Open, I am wondering how the internet, and social media in particular, has changed our personal and professional lives. I now have many friends and colleagues globally that I have never met in person; I have collaborated with many researchers that I have never seen; and my opinions now reach an audience much beyond I thought was ever possible. Social media has brought us all together and empowered us more than ever before. We can now think and act together as a fraternity. Forget IBM’s Watson, we can now use social media to tap into the intellectual opinions of our global colleagues in order to treat the patient in front of us. I have seen this happen a number of times in the ESMO Young Oncologists Facebook group.
To capture that power of social media and further engage, educate and entertain our readers, we – the ESMO Open team and I – have decided to start this blog. I mention “engage, educate and entertain” because that is what I hope to achieve with these blogs. Engage because without engagement, there can be no discussions and debates. Educate because our profession asks for life-long learning. Entertain because there’s no point in reading a blog if it’s boring and pedantic – you may as well read textbooks or research papers! The major oncology issues that I hope to talk about in these blogs include the latest debates in cancer treatment, the use of social media in oncology, the challenges of global oncology, cancer policies, and career building for early career oncologists.
There are many hats an oncologist wears in his or her life. The professional hat is obvious – taking care of cancer patients and engaging in academic exercises to discover, discourse and disseminate knowledge. However, we all are humans first, and we do have our own personal concerns and conflicts. We will use this blog space to touch any aspect of those lives – not because I am an expert in those fields but I am travelling on the same journey as the rest of you, and sharing and learning becomes easier when we are together. So be ready not only for clinical information, summaries and debates on oncology but also contents related to personal lives and global concerns, to reflect the true world we are living in.
I want this blog to be something we can all relate to (not necessarily agree with, but relate to). I want us to feel together in our journey. This unique journey as an oncologist is filled not only with joys of treating patients, pleasure of passing exams and delight of professional growths but also with fatigue, burnout, depression and resignation. And like all journeys, the journey of a career in oncology, is all the more interesting if you’ve friends by your side. This is something the Editor-in-Chief of ESMO Open also acknowledged in the very first blog post for this journal. I’d like this blog to be that companion in our journey. To achieve that purpose, I need your support-if you have anything interesting to share or if there is a topic you want me to talk about, feel free to drop me a message. But remember: I’m just a moderator. This is our blog, let’s shape it our way.
So, let’s begin this important journey together – sharing knowledge, happiness and concerns. We are not alone and we should not feel alone. We are divided by arbitrary lines on the map, arbitrary colours we were born into that we had no choice to decide, arbitrary gender that we had no freedom to choose, and culture that was also not a conscious choice but a product of where we were born and how we were brought up. Despite all those differences, we all are researchers, health care professionals or just simple human beings who in our own way are doing our best to help cancer patients live a little bit more comfortably for as long as possible-and it is this good intention that binds us all. Cancer respects no boundaries, neither should we! We share similar emotions and intentions. We all want to serve our patients to the best of our knowledge. And at the end of the day, we all need a warm hug from the person we love.
Until next time!
Bishal Gyawali, MD is a postgraduate trainee in medical oncology at the Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya University, Japan, where he is also a PhD candidate under the Japanese government scholarship. His areas of clinical and research interests include evidence-based oncology practice, global oncology, cancer policy, cancer management in resource-limited settings, financial toxicities of cancer treatment, clinical trial methods and supportive treatment of cancer. Dr Gyawali tweets at @oncology_bg.