Letters from Bozeman: One Physician-Scientist Heeds the Call of Change
Kenneth May, Jr., MD, PhD, writes about his call and transition from big city practice to a more remote environment.
Cancer patients often talk about how the cancer journey changes their lives, but I doubt many would consider what motivated a noted physician-scientist to make a major change and move westward, to a locale where the nearest academic medical center is at least a long day’s drive away.
Dr. May will be chronicling his experiences, having moved from Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to practice in Bozeman, Montana, on a regular basis. In his first piece, he leads with a thought-provoking sentiment:
“At some point in almost every person’s life, an undeniable urge for change begins to nip at one’s heels—a prodding to test limits, explore what’s possible beyond what is, to take that proverbial westward ride into the sunset. This urge comes in many flavors: desire for adventure or escapism, yearning for different pastures, the call to find one’s own path, the challenge of breaking ground outside of one’s comfort zone. And for some, the call to change is thrust upon them, unwelcome and imposing, but necessary. Undeniably, a journey of change will alter us, regardless of whether we seek it or whether it arrives despite our best attempts.”
As I read Dr. May’s first entry, I was struck by how much he was able to draw parallels between his own reality and that of cancer patients. It speaks of an empathy we patients might overlook all too easily as we focus on dealing with our treatments, emotions and followup. As he continues to share his thoughts and impressions of life in a Bozeman practice, I am sure we will continue to be surprised.
“And above all, I’ve discovered that the journey a doctor and patient take together–be it in the East or West, the coast or mountain, the city or country–is more similar than it is different…facing the unknown and unexpected together, heedless of zip code along Interstate-90. Like settlers and prospectors who long ago headed west to explore our country’s territories, the journey that each physician and patient take together on the trail through health and disease is one with similar uncertainty of the destination and outcome.”