“I spent a year in the UK at Leeds university; this is before I came to medicine, and I was actually studying Geography. I was training to be a Geography high school teacher and I guess, at 20, you’re out discovering the world and you’re meeting new people, living independently away from home; it was just a great time.
That year ended with my mum being diagnosed with a brain tumour and she died shortly after when I was 21, I came back from England and I just helped look after her while she had her radio therapy. It was only four months after first presentation of her illness to dying, it was actually a pretty quick process. We had travelled together as a family at the start of that year I had away. Pretty fond memories of being together as a family, that was the last time before my mum died. That year has always been my happiest but obviously, the year after was particularly tough.
When I was 23, 24, I was travelling again, this time in Eastern Africa. I was staying in a remote rural part of Uganda and I found myself, only because they were so understaffed and under resourced, helping out at the hospital. I was mainly in the labour ward actually and so I found myself rubbing a lot of backs just to provide pain relief and mental support. And I ended up assisting at caesareans and helping resuscitate newborns. I didn’t know what I was doing but I was just doing what I was told. And I loved it. That is where it all changed for medicine.
I did my teaching diploma at the end of my geography degree and got offered my first teaching job at the exact same time as I got offered a spot in medicine. It was actually quite a hard decision at the time, because I always wanted to teach but then this call to do medicine was pretty strong. It was certainly a bit of a 90-degree turn. Obviously, I have been blessed with the love of great parents and great family and in many ways, they are hugely influential. But sometimes it’s the little moments that turn your life around and have a profound effect. When you look back you think, maybe that was meant to happen.”