Posted by Su Lee and Dr. Eijean Wu
In July, we entered the new age of robotic surgery with the successful completion of 3 successful cases. Dr. Eijean Wu is the first surgeon to perform the robotic assisted cases at CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (CHA HPMC). Today, she shares her care philosophy and what optimal patient outcomes means to her.
On the first day of my intern year at Montefiore Medical Center, I eagerly walked onto the Labor and Delivery floor in my freshly pressed white coat. The chief resident looked me in the eye and said, “Eat this chocolate chip cookie, change into scrubs, and complete these 3 C-sections. Come find me when you’re done.” Thus began the whirlwind of residency that led me to gynecologic oncology fellowship at USC, which led to practicing in downtown Los Angeles 11 years later.
From the beginning of medical training, I found caring for cancer patients to be a special privilege for many reasons. You worked in a multidisciplinary team that included other physicians, social workers, nurses, OR staff, nutritionists, physical therapists, radiation technicians, hospice providers, etc. You pieced together intricate treatment plans, and guided patients through one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. You became a part of the life stories of many unique individuals — no encounter was ever routine.
My work is both hopeful and humbling, because the reality is that there is no cure for most cancers right now. My job focuses instead on empowering patients to regain each precious moment of their lives, despite having cancer. I examine the risks and benefits of each drug regimen and counsel patients to spend time with their loved ones. I seek out technologies, like robotic-assisted surgery, that can help people recover and be home faster. I try to convince my patients that cancer is an aspect, not the totality of their existence. And in the final moments when there is no earthly solution for the suffering, I try to help the families make peace with what cannot be controlled.
I have deeply appreciated the warm welcome that CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center community has given my patients. I moved my practice onto the campus, and look forward to closer collaborations with the CHA HPMC team.