Photograph of Dr Samriti Sood in surgery

The privilege of being a surgeon

Reconstructing the lives of women with breast cancer

University of Sydney alumnus Dr Samriti Sood was determined to be a surgeon from a young age. Now that she's there, she says it's her greatest privilege.

Samriti Sood is a General and Specialist Breast Oncoplastic Surgeon who is trained in breast cancer oncology surgery and reconstructive surgery. She also offers surgical treatment for a variety of general surgical conditions.

A Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and a member of General Surgeons Australia and the BreastSurgANZ Society, Samriti completed her general surgical training alongside a Master of Surgery and a Graduate Certificate in Surgery (Breast Surgery) from The University of Sydney.

Today she is an experienced surgeon and senior clinical lecturer, teaching into the postgraduate breast surgery course that she once studied herself. She is a published researcher and is actively involved in clinical trials for breast cancer management.

“As a medical student, and still today, every time I have the opportunity to be in an operating theatre I feel like a bird soaring in the sky. It is an absolute privilege to be a surgeon", she says.

Her driving inspiration

Samriti’s grandparents were refugees in India, fleeing Pakistan during the India-Pakistan Partition. Her grandmother was only allowed to go to school until she was 12.

“She would always say to me, knowledge is power, and without knowledge, you are empty, which has served as a mantra to me throughout my life.

“My parents also always dreamed big for me. They migrated to Australia from India with very little when I was eight years old. Even though my dad had a law degree, he took a job at a supermarket, and my mother did a paper run."

At age 15, Samriti volunteered at Westmead Hospital for a week during her school holidays. She was scared of doctors as a child, and the idea of cancer terrified her, but this fear also served as a driver for her to understand and learn more.

“I watched an operation and was totally gobsmacked by the skill and agility of the surgeons. By the end of that week I decided I wanted to work in the exact field that scared me the most", she said.

Reconstructing lives  

“Breast cancer affects all ages, from older women to young women who are, like me, really just starting out in their lives.

“I treated a young patient recently, a teacher in her early 30s with metastatic breast cancer. She was newly engaged and planning her life – a life that had never factored having to go through aggressive chemotherapy.

“I was able to walk her through a very challenging and vulnerable time. To me that is what medicine is all about, looking at people as a whole, giving them quality of life, and in the case of breast surgery, reconstructing them."

Specialise in medicine at Sydney Medical School

27 April 2018

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