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From Patient to Provider

Claudia Saborit, a 4th-year M.D. candidate, describes how a cancer diagnosis put her on a new career path

Photograph by Jeffery Salter


y journey to becoming a physician began at the age of 15. For most Latina teenagers, your quinceañera is a year to remember — a time when you are recognized as a woman. I was living in Hialeah, Florida, a Cuban-American town filled with first-generation immigrants, strong coffee and a myriad of culture, and I was eagerly anticipating my celebration. I was enrolled in an accelerated high school program to become an early childhood teacher. But my quinceañera came with a cancer diagnosis that would change my life and career trajectory.

What began as a routine checkup at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the Miller School of Medicine led me down a path of biopsies, surgeries and numerous hospital days. That was my first real exposure to the American medical system. I still remember the shy medical students coming to speak with me early in the morning. Little did I know that they were pre-rounding on me to present my case to the team. Fast forward a couple of years, and not only did I achieve remission, but I also enrolled at Cornell University as a pre-med student. My journey later brought me back to the Miller School as a medical student.

Today, my bed at Holtz Children’s Hospital is taken by another patient, and I am one of the medical students checking in on them in the morning. Months away from graduation, however, I still carry the patient experience with me. I am forever grateful to the Miller School for diagnosing my cancer, treating me, and training me so that I may become the physician for patients like the one I once was.

FALL 2021