July 28, 2017
Written by Olincia White (class of 2016-2017)
My July OREX day was most exciting. I realized that it is not solely about which surgeries you observe but also greatly about who you meet and the opportunities that arise. On July 28th I arrived to Highland and decided to observe a surgery with Dr. Richard S. Godfrey. Having had observed him once before I jumped at the opportunity to join him again. We made brief conversation after board rounds and he welcomed me into the OR. The surgery was for a young woman who had a mass in her left breast. The mass was small and was assumed to be benign based on the size, the even edges, and the lack of pain associated with it. Most cancerous masses will have a jagged edge, be asymmetrical and cause pain and discoloration. This was a mass about the size of a peanut M&M. It wasn’t too big but it was hard and worrisome. The surgery was being performed by a new resident who was getting his first chance at excising a mass at Highland. He was being supervised by Dr. Godfrey and one of his senior residents, Dr. Simone Caccano. Dr. Godfrey assured Simone that she had done the surgery enough times to teach the new resident so she did. Every time Simone asked the new resident if he had done something or used a certain instrument before, he replied “not at this hospital” he was very quiet and I wondered if he was nervous but why wouldn’t he be? Surgery is a very intimidating process. One thing I’ve learned is that no matter how smart you are you must humble yourself for surgery. The new resident was Dr. Kevin Machino and as the surgery unfolded Simone did more and more as he sort of stood back and observed. It takes some time to get used to using the trochanters and tools in a manner that’s pleasing to the seasoned residents and doctors. Before long, the mass was out and the patient was being stitched up. During the surgery Dr. Godfrey came over to talk with me. We discussed my interests in surgery and medicine and he shared with me some very amazing and life changing news! To my surprise, Dr. Godfrey is the author of a book, “African Queen, Tales of Motherhood and Wild Bees”, a story of the Obama family, three dynamic Kenyan women, and their impact on an evolving culture. The book discusses how societies handle the challenges of resources, population and climate changes.
In addition to the book Dr. Godfrey is the creator of a free clinic for women and children in Kenya! He gave me his card which has the title of the book, and gave me information on how I can volunteer… in Kenya! The clinic is the Matibabu Foundation hospital and there is an organization here in the bay area that I can volunteer with if I am interested in going to Kenya myself. We discussed plane tickets and the process involved. How exciting is that?!! This encounter truly made my day and opened my mind up to a whole new slew of possibilities. In the near future I hope to contact the organization and volunteer. It has always been my dream to help women and children, especially those who are less fortunate or living in an underserved community. Who knows maybe one day I’ll go to Africa and give back. If I do it will be thanks to the OREX program! Thanks for reading!