Fighting for You

Passion to Care

Three Cancer Doctors Share the ‘Aha’ Moments that Shaped Their Careers

By Rachael Bieschke

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For some physicians, their chosen career in medicine seems engrained in their psyche from the moment they’re born. For others, a moment of sudden realization — an “aha” moment — grants the necessary clarity and allows them to start the journey toward their life’s work. For three oncologists at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), it was an “aha” moment that led to a passionate career helping people face and overcome cancer.

Physics class to patient-centered care

As a child, Brion Randolph, MD, Director of Hematologic Oncology; Medical Oncologist & Hematologist, at CTCA® in Newnan, Georgia had varied interests, from music to science.The latter was inspired by his mother, a high school science teacher. His first glimpse into the field of oncology came at 10 years old, when he conducted a science project on cats to determine how different foods affected their bloodwork and coat quality. Dr. Randolph went on to study nuclear engineering, earning a Master of Science degree in the field from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

As a graduate student, he studied the physics of medical imaging and radiation therapy, and it was then that he developed a strong desire to go into the field of hematology/oncology. “It was through this experience that I first had the opportunity to work with patients,” Dr. Randolph says, noting that he was drawn to their amazing stories and enjoyed interacting with patients more so than focusing solely on the technical aspects of care.

Dr. Randolph is passionate about taking care of people and sees himself as a builder and connector, finding ways to provide the right treatment plan for each individual patient. His wife, Anita, also works at CTCA in Newnan, for the patient survivorship program. So patients may start out being treated by Dr. Randolph, then progress to seeing his wife for improved quality of life during survivorship.

During his time in practice, Dr. Randolph says, he has become “increasingly aware that the emotional, spiritual, physical and nutritional needs of patients are often overlooked in the delivery of cancer care,” and he remains dedicated to helping cancer patients get all of their varied needs met.

Keeping cancer care in the family

Inspiration for becoming a doctor came from his own father, a hematologist/oncologist, says Eugene Ahn, MD, Medical Director of Clinical Research and hematologist/Oncologist at CTCA in Zion, Illnois. At only 5 years old, Dr. Ahn recalls dreaming of following in his father’s footsteps, improving cancer treatment and finding a cancer cure. Medicine was part of his upbringing, so his road to becoming a doctor was a natural progression.

After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in biology at Yale University and his Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Miami, he moved on to postgraduate training and eventually became the principal investigator in a number of clinical trials to improve breast cancer treatment and more — living his dream of “solving the puzzle of cancer.”

In addition to acting as the spokesperson for CTCA’s TAPUR study in precision cancer treatment, Dr. Ahn is known for complementing conventional treatment plans with mind-body interventions. His desire to open up new avenues for cancer treatment led him to the field of psychoneuroimmunology, which suggests certain mind-body interventions may enhance immunity via innate biological pathways in your body.

He remains excited to build what he says are “unlimited possibilities” to cancer care by using an integrative approach — and perhaps will one day pass on his enthusiasm for medicine to his own newborn baby girl.

Witnessing her mom come out of the shadows after plastic surgery

Rola Eid, DO, FACOS knew she wanted to be a doctor from the time she was a child, but it was a personal experience that led her down the path of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Eid, Medical Director of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at CTCA in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was 8 years old, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. During her mother’s 10-year battle with the disease, Dr. Eid watched her become a shadow of her former self and struggle with the physical disfigurement and social implications of living with cancer.

Breast reconstruction surgery changed all of that, restoring her mother back to the social butterfly she used to be. “I saw firsthand the transformative and restorative power of plastic surgery, and from then on my course was set,” Dr. Eid says. Today, she says, she loves the patient-centered care that allows patients to tailor their treatment plan and be the captain of their own ship — something that wasn’t widely available to her mother during the early ‘80s.

With more than 16 years of training in general surgery, plastic surgery, breast reconstruction and more, Dr. Eid continues to raise the bar, even learning advanced techniques like fat grafting and 3D nipple tattooing to create the most realistic results.

The psychological change she sees in her patients following reconstruction makes it all worthwhile, Dr. Eid says, noting that her goal is to restore what cancer has taken away — even the human spirit.

Physicians like Randolph, Ahn and Eid bring their passion to work each day, helping each of their patients face cancer with hope and strength. Learn more about their stories by heading to the CTCA Facebook page or watching the Passion to Care video below.