‘When Life Isn’t in Your Hands, You End Up Appreciating It More’November 16, 2023
For Angela Ellis (DO’ 25), there’s much to be thankful for this year.
In the classroom, she was learning how to care for future patients. Outside of the
classroom, she was receiving treatment for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
“You hear about it, and you know people who have cancer, but you don’t think you’re
ever going to get it,” said Ellis. “Especially at 27 years old.”
While breast cancer most often occurs in women 50 years of age or older, its more aggressive form impacts those at a younger age. Something Ellis has experienced herself and witnessed firsthand with her patients.
“On the first day of my hematology/oncology rotation, I saw a 22-year-old who was
also diagnosed with TNBC,” Ellis shared.
“The doctor and I were with her, and she was so scared. I was able to say, ‘I know
what you’re going through,’” she recalled as her voice broke. “‘I’m going through
Ellis underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction in May, took her board exams
in June (and passed), and began chemotherapy in July.
On September 15th, she rang the bell, signifying the end of her treatment.
“It was really special for me to ring the bell on that day,” she said. “Because it
was the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in the country among Latinas.
A lack of representation in medical research, combined with language barriers and
cultural beliefs, puts the Hispanic/Latina population at a greater disadvantage.
“You don’t see a lot of Hispanic and Latino oncologists,” Ellis shares. “Being a Latina
physician who has gone through cancer and would serve patients in that aspect is a
big drive for me, which is why I continue to work hard.”
Having finished her treatment, Ellis is still on track to graduate with her class.
While she’s determined to complete her medical school journey, it’s not the only one she’s on.
“I’ve taken a step back and realized that having a family, living life, and doing
fun things matter to me. I don’t want to die tomorrow and think all I did was study
and work,” she said.
“When life isn’t in your own hands anymore, you really do end up appreciating it more.”
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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