Diana Mihalache

Diana is the third member of the Reid R. Sacco Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Progam’s Summer Scholar 2017 team! She has selected to dedicate her summer to learning more about AYA cancer before beginning her 2nd year at Tufts University School of Medicine. Below she shares what drew her to the AYA Cancer Program.

I have been interested in oncology for several years. Prior to entering medical school, I pursued a Masters’ degree in Biomedical Sciences and for my final thesis I chose to do a review of the literature on the current and future advances in oncological treatment modalities, with a focus on immunotherapy. Through my research, I quickly came to find the field to be extremely challenging and fascinating.  What I found most amazing about immunotherapy was the prospect of one day matching future cancer patients with their own personalized treatment cocktails, designed specifically to fight their unique cancers.  But admittedly, at that time, I still only had a very generalized, superficial understanding of the field in actual practice.

It wasn’t until I attended an introductory lunch talk given by Dr. Parsons’ this past fall, that I started thinking about the complex and unique set of circumstances that specifically distinguish the AYA population from other cancer patients, which is what initially drew me to the AYA program. Given their age, adolescents and young adults hopefully have many decades ahead of them, yet they are at increased risk for developing chronic and severe late effects, such as secondary malignancies, ironically as a result of the same treatments that once saved their lives. Learning of the lifelong challenges this group faces as a result of their initial diagnoses and subsequent treatments is why I wanted to be involved.

I am extremely excited for this summer because I am looking forward to learning a lot, not only from Dr. Parsons and her patients, but also from all from the talented, multidisciplinary staff who are critical in making this program so unique.  I also hope to gain more clinical experience in the field and acquire skills that will one day help me in my own practice.

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