Dr. Pete Tonseth: A Passion for Radiology

February 7, 2017

Hello, my name is Dr. Pete Tonseth and I’m very pleased to be sharing a bit about myself on the BC Cancer Foundation blog this month!

I was born in Norway and moved often in my early years, living in Denmark, California and Washington before starting school in a small town in Norway. My family and I then moved to Ontario for a year before moving to Sidney in 1970, where we settled and I completed my elementary and secondary education.

I was fortunate to have great teachers who were enthusiastic about what they taught. I think I was drawn to science since my father was a fiberglass engineer, my mother a nurse and my uncle a neurosurgeon – all of them loved what they did.

When I started at the University of Victoria, it seemed only natural that it was in the sciences, but it was not until I failed a course (rugby was a priority!), went to Australia and realized that life as ‘brickies labourer’ was not for me that I set my sights on medicine. When I returned from that trip, I successfully demonstrated that I was capable and entered Med 1 at the University of British Columbia in 1984.

During my four years in Medicine at UBC I met many inspiring physicians, but one in particular stood out for his passion for Radiology and it planted the seed that would eventually transform into what I do today.

Dr. Pete Tonseth sails the open seas
Dr. Pete Tonseth sails the open seas.

Along the way, though, there were many twists and turns, all of which were invaluable lessons in persistence and seizing opportunity when it arises. I began my career as a rural GP in Tahsis, was the physician on Mayne Island, worked on pocket cruisers and tall ships, sailed offshore, completed the Radiology/Nuclear Medicine residency, then did imaging locums and worked for a teleradiology company before taking the position in the Functional Imaging Department (PET/CT) at the BC Cancer Agency in 2011.

The work I do, interpreting PET/CT images, teaches me something new every day. We have a fantastic, dedicated team providing sophisticated imaging support for the clinicians caring for patients with cancer. I’ll share more about this next week!