While serving an LDS Church mission in Australia, Dr. Steven Wallentine found he enjoyed the give-and-take that comes from communication. He also liked serving others.
“It was there that I knew I wanted to make service my life and that I wanted to use my skills of listening and talking,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be in a people-oriented job.”
His role as a medical oncologist allows him to serve those in real need and to create bonds that come from going through challenging experiences together.
Doctor dreams “I have alopecia, so I saw doctors all the time growing up. I chose to go into the field partly because there would be some security, but I also appreciated the chance to help others in a meaningful way.”
Clinically focused “I chose medical oncology because of the patients. Their circumstances have given them a different perspective than others — usually better. Cancer causes a lot of emotions and feelings. It also brings a lot of change. When I was doing rotations in medical school, I was drawn to those patients. Sharing that journey with them is pretty rewarding. Plus, it is always fun to see someone cured of the big, bad cancer.”
Crucial communication “From Day One, I communicate with my patients about what we know and expect. It’s important to set realistic expectations. Being transparent and upfront helps. With cancer, you may have lots of victories in the battles, but the war keeps going on. It’s frustrating to tell someone that their cancer is back. But again, you take it head on and keep communication open.”
Physical future “I’m excited about research being done that is helping us understand what’s driving a cell’s abnormality. As we learn about the cells and how they proliferate, we’ve opened a lot of targets for treatment. Plus, immunotherapy advances are exciting. With that, we’re basically removing the obstacles to our own immune system. We have checks and balances in our immune system, which is good. But, if we can decrease that, we can see success in targeted therapy.”
Take care “Obesity will increase the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer. Lifestyle modification — improving diet and exercise — will go a long way in maximizing health. Plus, we live in a day and age where we can catch cancer early through screenings. Get pap smears, colonoscopies and mammograms. Get your dermatological screenings.”