Our Chief Executive, Katherine Taylor, recently had the chance to observe Dr Christina Fotopoulou at work in the operating theatre. She shares her humbling experience.
Our Research Centre is based at Imperial College and a number of the scientists also work in the NHS at Imperial Healthcare Trust’s Hammersmith Hospital. Dr Christina Fotopoulou is a surgeon who is one of these scientists. Christina invited me to observe her work in action and recently I was able to take up the offer.
Seeing a team at work in the theatre was an incredible experience and a truly humbling one. The atmosphere was calm and purposeful, and utterly respectful to the patient and her needs.
Christina operated with two assistants and all three worked together to enable her to reach into the abdominal cavity and remove tumours that had spread beyond the patient’s ovary and into the lymph nodes. The goal was clear: all cancer had to be removed in order to give the patient the best chance of survival. This is not straightforward work and it was moving to see the care that went into ensuring that it happened.
Aside from the three clinicians working surgically, the theatre was busy with an anaesthetist and his colleagues, nurses and technicians whose job it was to carefully label and store the tumours from the different sites across the abdomen.
These tumours go on to become a vital resource for the work that’s done in the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre. Every sample is precious, as it helps the team understand the complexities of ovarian cancer and how that knowledge can help us treat it. Every day patients help us to get this done through the samples donated as a consequence of their surgery.
Excellent surgery is a critical tool in helping us beat ovarian cancer. I was privileged to see it in action at Imperial.