Monday, November 12, 2007

We Shall OverCome

(youth sizes "for the petite ladies")
Last Friday, a classmate named Mike Frederick presented the best damn Clinical Sciences Journal Club in recent memory. It was a paper demonstrating the effectiveness of oophorectomies (surgical removal of ovaries) as prophylaxis against ovarian cancer in patients with BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 mutations.
The strength of Mike's presentation rested upon his courage to discuss how ovarian cancer has affected his life. He began the presentation with the sound a woman singing opera -- the voice belonged to be his sister, who passed away from ovarian cancer the summer before Mike started medical school at UCSF. Mike wove his own family history and his personal experiences together in a way that amused, touched, and educated the audience (a crowd of MS1's and MS2's, journal club has always been a proudly student-run affair). My eyes were constantly tearing up, and it was so memorable watching Mike onstage showing us videos of his family and photos of his between Kaplan-Meier curves and data tables of the patient population in the study.
What will really stay in memory is how the presentation was so quintessentially "Mike" -- a guy who is proud of his family, a down-to-earth, unapologetically opinionated farm boy from Nipomo, CA, who can bake banana cream pies from scratch and tell you the difference between a starfish and a sea star while he skin dives for abalone. A guy who formerly boasted tonsils the size of testicles (before he had them removed last year) and who has helped to make UCSF medical school an amazing place to be.

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