Dr. Neera JeyabalanMedical Oncologist – Cancer Clinic, PRHC, President YWCA Board of Directors
My family left my native country of Sri Lanka for Zambia when I was a child. A civil war made it impossible to return to Sri Lanka so, Canada became home.
A mere four years after arriving in Canada, my father passed away.
I was just a teen and my dear mother was left to raise my brother and I. Her income was limited and she was struggling to adapt to Canadian life. Much could have gone awry but, we were buoyed by the benevolent acts of compassionate teachers, neighbours and friends. Their kindnesses too numerous to recount, imbued me with courage, a hunger to succeed, and a strong sense that one day, I will pay forward this goodwill.
Witnessing my father’s declining health and his eventual demise after a year-long battle with illness, opened my eyes to the “illness experience” and was the catalyst for my desire to become a doctor.
Today, I work as a Medical Oncologist in the Cancer Clinic at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
The complexities of cancer biology and the advances in treatment fascinate me.
The chance to work with an outstanding team of nurses, pharmacists and support staff is a joy.
The greatest honour however, is the chance to care for my patients who entrust me with their health and feelings about their diagnosis and hopes for their future.
I am my best self when I am listening, caring and guiding my patients through a myriad of decisions that define the cancer journey.
It is demanding work and there are times when there is so much sadness, it can feel suffocating.
However, it is work that keeps me real and grounded. Work which provides that powerful notion known as “perspective”.
I recognize that there are many people in anguish and in need beyond the borders of my work. It is for this reason that I volunteer my time to the YWCA of Peterborough Haliburton.
The YWCA helps women and their children escape violence and abuse and offers programs to help them thrive. I work alongside an inspiring contingent of women intent on making our community better. This year, I will serve as the President of the YWCA’s Board of Directors, a role that I feel honoured to fulfill.
At home, I am the proud mother of two inquisitive and energetic children and partner to my thoughtful and inspiring husband. My love for them is limitless and in their presence,
I am my happiest self. They complete who I am.