News at Medicine - December 2013 - Doctor details journey through cancer treatment on radio


Doctor details journey through cancer treatment on radio
December 11, 2013
 At age 27, Dr. Nikhil Joshi (Class of 2012) was diagnosed with lymphoma. As a physician training in internal medicine, he’s had to put his studies on hold but he’s gone public about his battle with the disease through a CBC radio show and column.
 
“This is very cathartic for me,” said Dr. Joshi. “I’m not ashamed that I have cancer.”

The response to his CBC blog has been overwhelming, said Dr. Joshi. “Over 60,000 people read the blog and I personally received feedback from 100 people, all very supportive and appreciative that I am writing and talking about my cancer. I feel validated by the response.”
 
Dr. Joshi was already familiar with radio work, having worked on the program New Voices while he was a medical student. When CBC Morning Show host Anthony Germaine came across his blog The Top 10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone with Cancer, he asked Dr. Joshi to do an interview and CBC producer Heather Barrett suggested he do a local show. As it turned out, the show went national and can be heard Monday on morning shows across the country.  
 
As far as his studies go, Dr. Joshi has had to postpone these until his treatments are finished. “I don’t think people know what it’s like to be sidelined by a major illness,” he said.  “I’m just thankful to the Discipline of Medicine that they have been very supportive of me.”
 
Dr. Joshi’s blog and show do not dwell on the negative aspects of his illness – in fact, he can see humour in any situation. In a recent blog he talks about his desire to eat pizza. “I remember I was full of bravado walking into my doctor's office,” he writes. “What was she going to tell me that I didn't already know? I was going to get chemo, I was going to be nauseous, and I was going to be susceptible to infection. Big deal.  But then she told me something far more scary. She told me I couldn't eat out anymore. I would have to give up fast food because the cleanliness of the food may be questionable.”
 
But did he comply? No, Dr. Joshi first tried to comply, but he cheated on his regimen with a slice of pizza. That was just the start – he started eating out for lunch whenever he felt well, then started having a few glasses of wine at dinner.

“And every bit of normalcy I got back, every smidgen of my actual life that returned, was like gold to me. Now, I understand why some patients' have difficulty with rules. Once I get back to work, I think I'll take the approach that I'm there to offer my patients suggestions and outline risks and choices.” 
 
Dr. Joshi recently shared his experience with second-year medical students at Memorial. “I had one of the most proud moments I’ve ever had as a Memorial alumnus,” he said. “We were talking about what it meant to be a doctor, the type of people and character that one should possess. And I told them ‘at night, there’s a young man who works with the janitorial staff. And his hair is long and blonde. What’s his name?’ And the class replied his name is – well let’s just call him Matt. And ‘Matt’ is one of the classiest and best guys I know. And I was so proud of these students – they were already the type of people I was happy to know. They who would never let any boundaries lie between two kind-hearted people. There is an honesty in Memorial medicine that isn’t in other medical schools anywhere else. A genuine heart that continues to beat no matter how terrible the outside world gets. And it’s beautiful.”
 
To read Dr. Joshi’s blog, visit http://nikhiljoshi.ca/