Dr. Kim Freeman, DACVIM Oncology
When I first decided to become a veterinarian, I did it because of a love of science. I love genetics and cellular biology, physiology and disease processes. As a vet student, I had the opportunity to work in a tumor biology lab killing cancer in tiny little test tubes. While there was something sort of fun and sci fi about that experience, it was quite sterile and rigid. Plus, I learned that the whole problem with research was the “re” part of it, where you “re”peat your project and data over and over again, til you get it right. It just wasn’t for me.
The more fun parts of vet school were the rotations in exotic medicine – treating a barred owl with a wing injury (he loved me for the mice I provided him for dinner), treating a wallaby with an abscess (she liked celery sticks); the rotation in food animal medicine – the rodeo bull that had a preputial abscess and needed a “reefing surgery” – better to Google that than have me explain. But these weren’t my calling.
I loved small animal medicine. It fulfilled my scientific calling as well as my desire to provide compassionate care to pets and help owners make informed decisions. It was rewarding to see really sick patients get well. It was rewarding to give good news to their owners and see the joy when patients recovered and went home. That is my maternal calling. To nurture the ill, even if they are not going to survive, and to provide comfort.
The joys of being an oncologist come from the simplest things. I have had patients with a prognosis of days to weeks end up living years! I’ve seen patients that were very sick from their cancer respond to treatments I prescribed and witnessed their quality of life improve significantly. A patient that had to have a leg amputated for bone cancer lived every last one of his days going hunting with his “dad”- an activity they both loved to do together and were able to enjoy to the end. These are the patients that give back to me. It is to them I owe my career and my gratitude. Thank you, Kim