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From Québec to B.C.: My Journey to a Career in Oncology

July 8, 2014

Dear July readers, this is my first blogging adventure.  I was asked to take part of this blog by the BC Cancer Foundation, and for the next month, I will do my best to keep you interested while sharing what I consider the most important elements of my work and experiences.

I suggest that we start from the beginning: my name is François Bachand and, not surprisingly, I am from Québec. I was born in Sherbrooke a little more than 30 years ago.   I have two younger brothers and grew up in the medical world.  My father is a family doctor, as well as his two brothers. My mother is a medical director and owns two medical clinics, managing doctors all day long – she is basically a saint.

I went to high school and Cegep (this is our Preparatory College, essentially Grade 12/13) in Sherbrooke at the Séminaire de Sherbrooke. As with many buildings and institutions in Québec, it has a long history. My father and his brothers actually went to the same school, then my brother and me, followed by another generation of cousins who graduated recently.

At a young age, I learned to play piano, clarinet, bass clarinet and flute. I ended up playing in two orchestras during high school and Cegep. Choosing between music and medicine was very difficult for me. I chose the latter and went to Université de Sherbrooke for Medical School. 

During the four years of medical school, I met a radiation oncologist who inspired me in many ways – she represented everything I was expecting from a doctor and definitely guided my future choice of residency. I completed my training in radiation oncology at L’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec (Université Laval in Québec City). Through my training, I worked with many great mentors, specifically in brachytherapy for prostate and gynaecological cancers.

I moved to British Columbia to complete a fellowship in gynaecology radiation oncology in Vancouver with Dr. Christina Aquino-Parsons and Dr. Peter Lim. I consider my year in Vancouver as a turning point in my career and owe my passion for gynaecology oncology to Christina and Peter. I also met my partner during that year and decided to stay in British Columbia instead of returning to L’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, as it was initially planned. 

I worked one year at the BC Cancer Agency Centres in Surrey and Abbotsford, and then moved for a permanent position at the Centre in Kelowna three years ago. My main interests are gynaecology oncology and brachytherapy.

The constant collaboration between all the BC Cancer Agency centres across the province is one of the biggest advantages of working here. I continue to work with my friends and mentors, like Christina and Peter, every week through videoconference.

The Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior in Kelowna is the perfect match for me for many reasons, including the lifestyle and the most dynamic radiation oncology department I have seen in British Columbia.  In the next post, I will talk a little more about the work I do for the people of British Columbia.

Thanks for reading,