i've got the cure for you

Post-Brain Stuffing
December 14, 2010, 8:26 pm
Filed under: snowflakes | Tags:

Boys and Girls, it has been official since Friday Dec 10 that I am done exams. I’m definitely not sorry for kicking ass early but good luck to the rest of you! I think I was so tired that I could fall asleep almost anywhere.

Exhibit A.

Now, off to spend more time with my beloved over something other than studying and enjoy the winter holidays.

Photo: via A Cup of Jo


What was the formula again?
December 14, 2010, 8:19 pm
Filed under: i don't know where to put this

The training so far that we’ve received has been, as what all my other fellow navigators are saying, amazing. We have different teams on both side, from the U of T Public Health and ELLICSR, teaching and supporting us in so many ways. But there is one thing that I find sometimes we, including myself, rely on so much that it in itself becomes a trap. Formulas.

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There always seems to be a formula for everything. I’m not saying that all formulas should be abolished because I recognize there is need for them to help take the right approach. What I’m trying to get at is the fact that, we are bombarded with these books and books of formulas but it becomes problematic when we fully depend on them. In our training, we are given various formulas to learn how to interact with the people we will meet in difficult settings. In school, formulas to do well to get the grades you want. In life, just go to chapters and look at the vast amount of self-help books.

Atul Gawande’s new book “The Checklist Manifesto” talks about the human fallibility and how a simple checklist implemented not only in the operating room but in various health care settings have dramatically improved mortality rates. It sounds simple but no one wanted to use it. He brings in the example of construction buildings, the complexity of it, and the unimaginable coordination needed during all of it. How? Checklists. But there are teams that come together to communicate the problems and consult each other during mishaps especially drastic ones. It’s not unnatural when things go astray and that formula or checklist that you had doesn’t cover it at all.

What am I really trying to say? When we begin to follow strictly to these formulas/checklists especially when communicating with, such as patients, it is very apparent. With that, you also start losing that personal connection with the person you are talking to. Like others have emphasized, they are guidelines, not simply the “If/then” command. We know that, but we often forget. I just want to remind others, but most importantly myself, there aren’t formulas to everything and that’s part of the beauty and spontaneity of life.

(This was also a post I made for the Youth4Health website which you can check out here.)

December 3, 2010, 12:07 am
Filed under: the educated imagination | Tags: , , ,

It was just brought to my attention that NASA made an incredibly interesting finding that has been released to public today. I thought I’d share the love since my beloved did because this is absolutely cool. Science nerds unite and let us wonder in awe.

I introduce you… GFAJ-1


World AIDS Day !
December 1, 2010, 6:47 pm
Filed under: a purpose driven life | Tags: , ,

December 1st is always the time of year when the campus is buzzing with activities everywhere and also the time I’ll get a red ribbon and wear it on my jacket. Last night I helped put together and host the Dignitas Youth “Let’s Talk About AIDS” event inviting James Fraser, Alexis McDonald, and Paul Hamel to come speak about their works and student activism. The audience group was diverse and the questions, as you can imagine, were so engaging and thoughts that shook us to the very core. What made the event so amazing was that all three speakers brought various aspects to the issue that addressed everyone’s questions in a different way. I find that the time I spend discussing about other topics with Youth4Health is as equally engaging even if it’s based only on our cultural backgrounds. And it comforts me that more and more are becoming unafraid to discuss sensitive and controversial issues. Especially with AIDS where so much stigma is associated with it, we are all learning to become more vocal.

To celebrate World AIDS Day, I took part in the “The Red Ribbon Dance” video arranged by the University of Toronto International Healh Program (UTIHP) playing a classic hand game with my boyfriend with using red folders. Probably something you remember playing if you were a girl back in elementary school. Let’s all unite and share our compassion with those living with AIDS. Wear red and come out to King’s College Circle today at 3pm and be part of the biggest red ribbon on campus!

(You can find me in this video starting at 1min 40s 😀 )


(This was also a post I made for the Youth4Health website which you can check out here.)

WHY? #1 PMH Family & Patient Library
November 25, 2010, 1:08 am
Filed under: a purpose driven life | Tags: , , ,

As a way to keep many informed of just the types of services that are offered to everyone, I’ve decided to do a 10 reasons (or less) why you should visit a particular place. Hopefully that will not only be concise but help you find information that will tailour to your needs. And my first candidate for the beginning of my “WHY?” series having visited it recently,

5 reasons why you should visit the Princess Margaret Hospital Family and Patient Library

1. Being a cancer-oriented hospital, they carry almost every brochure there is for cancer-related illnesses. Don’t speak English? Don’t fret just yet. They have it in many languages, such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Hindi just to name a few.

2. Some of the books that people come take out are healthy habits/diets. You can only imagine their vast selection for such a small library.

3. Lots and lots of DVD’s (or even video cassettes if you still own a VCR) that will help in understanding the type of cancer-illness you may have. A good majority of them are interactive!

4. Computers with free-internet access while you may be waiting around in the hospital to find information that you may need. Of course be courteous of the amount of time you spend on it if others are in need of the computer too.

5. If there is something that you can’t find, ask the librarian for a form where you can fill it out to get a well-tailored information package. The librarian will search for places/websites that will provide what you are looking for and have it ready for you to pick or send it you via e-mail.

6. I said there was only 5 but an extra one because I think it’s worth mentioning. The librarian, Michelle, is  approachable, warm and very informative. Even if you don’t really need to find information, take a little stroll down and say hi to the hard-working volunteers and Michelle!

(This was also a post I made for the Youth4Health website which you can check out here.)

Solidarity of the Suffering
November 20, 2010, 1:21 am
Filed under: a purpose driven life, Life | Tags: , , ,

This is my third year here at the University of Toronto and being in a life sciences related major, it’s becomes apparent, if not right when I entered then most certainly by now that most people when they here about us think we’re ruthless in a somewhat dog-eat-dog world. Of course there are exceptions but that seems to be the general portrayal being passed around. Having a few friends in engineering, I can only admire just how much of a close-knit community feeling they have with each other. But I couldn’t for the longest time wrap my mind around why? It wasn’t until I was talking to a good friend of mine on the topic of suffering. And using the engineers as an example in our discussion, it’s normal for most if not all to be failing below a 60% but it’s still not the end of the world for them. But how is that close-knit feeling harvested from failing? Perhaps if we looked back to the basic human suffering we can find that answer. Okay, I’m going on a huge tangent here that seems nothing related to health but hear me out. I think it’s through human suffering that is what brings solidarity between all of us. And one example that depicts this clearly is cancer.

For centuries we never knew it existed but now we realize it continually encompasses such a large population of the world. Breast cancer has progressively shown just how much suffering can bring us all together, whether you are living with it, a close loved one or even someone you had just met and diagnosed the next day. And just these two words alone in a conversation with a stranger brings an immediate unspoken connection. On the official launch date of the Youth4Health group, standing at the new ELLICSR space in the basement of the Toronto General Hospital listening to Scott answer my questions about the Cancer Survivorship Program at PMH made me realize this solidarity from suffering all the more. Did you know that there was no real  survivorship program for cancer patients prior to this one that was just implemented five years ago? I think it all started with group of passionate people that got together and realized what was lacking and the real support needed to be given patients outside of treatment and the doctors office. From our icebreakers and sharing, I strongly believe that some type of suffering brought all 7 us together to form a subgroup of the Youth4health. We’ve all experienced suffering in some form or another, as a victim or a personal witness. Either way, I’m sure a few of those moments have shaped the way we are and the way we see our lives.

Recently, I just learned that someone that I work with had to discontinue their studies to take care of their mother who had just gotten back positive biopsy samples for breast cancer. No one expected it, but suffering happens. And the mother will never look at life the same way again but I admire my colleague for the dedication and compassion. But this is one story out of several others that exist out there. Because of suffering, we try to make the best of the situation and continually improve patient outcomes through research, support groups,etc. Like the people that help launched the PMH Cancer Survivorship Program, I couldn’t be more excited to be part of something so moving and contribute to their work. Jill has worked hard to find a unique group to come together and I sincerely think all 7 of us have something equally special to bring to this project from our life experiences. Solidarity.

(This was also a post I made for the Youth4Health website which you can check out here.)

November 13, 2010, 6:52 pm
Filed under: the educated imagination

Sitting at the hotel waiting for the banquet dinner to begin soon. All the way at Queen’s University, far from home (realistically only 3 hours from Toronto). Attending the Canadian Undergraduate Conference on Healthcare (CUCOH) this year and also presenting a poster on research I did just the past summer.

Last night’s social event was simply plain awkward as I tried my best to socialize with others. Don’t you just hate it when the other person just give nothing for you to feedback on? It just makes it all the more worse. The venue was nice at Zappas Lounge, and a little dance floor that barely anyone one of us waltzed to. I am quite impressed, however, at just how many people from other Canadian universities actually came to attend the event as opposed to simply coming to just compete. In fact, I haven’t met more than 1 person that will also be presenting. Odd.

Today’s itineary is was just full of speakers. Francesca Grosso was the first keynote speaker of the conference and she has a great sense of humour. It must be her Italian background and her ability to reenact her father’s words. The message I think she wanted everyone to bring back home is:  the key to navigating the healthcare is to not navigate at all. And in some sense, I find that I do agree with her. The individual responsibility of keeping records of key medications that we take, organizing a proper team such as having nurse practitioners, good dietians, etc, and also bring someone with you to the hospital. The latter I find especially true, the hospital can be quite hectic and things can be easily dismissed and you honestly need someone there to be persistent for especially if you’re in no state to make coherent statements. Self-management is such an important key aspect. We may spend only a few visits to a doctors office for checkups or medication, but the rest of the 90% is all up to us. She also posed an interesting stance on ehealth which I won’t further comment because I barely know anything myself at the moment.

The second seminar I chose to attend was nice integrated participant discussion but I wasn’t particularily interested nor felt like I was able to take anything really from it. The last seminar that I just got back from by Dr. Jacalyn Duffin was extremely enjoyable to sit through. The origins of healthcare was the main topic and she started with a great history of father of medicare, Tommy Douglas. It was definitely a good knowledge to finally gain. She even had the 1939 Time Magazine featuring Henry E. Sigerist, a well acclaimed socialist physician at the time, which I got to flip through and enough time to snap a few photos. She even brought the Hall Commission documents stored at Queen’s library. Truly amazing.  She makes me wants to go to Queen’s just for her classes.

And I end this post with just enough time to make it to the dinner. Bon appetit.