Erick Estuardo Estrada
Assistant Professor Gynecology and Obstetrics, Hospital General San Juan de Dios, Guatemala City, Guatemala

 Member of IGCS since 2013.

It all started in 2010, when I was a first year Obstetrics & Gynecology resident at Hospital General San Juan de Dios in Guatemala City, Guatemala. I had the pleasure of meeting two amazing doctors, Dr. Pedro Ramirez and Dr. Kathleen Schmeler who visited our hospital as part of CONEP (Central America Oncology Education Program), an IGCS sponsored educational program to improve the Gynecologic Oncology training of Obstetrics & Gynecology residents in Central America. Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Schmeler spent a week in Guatemala giving lectures and teaching in the operating room and left a lasting impression on all of us. In 2014, I was a recipient of International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) Traveling Scholar Award, this provided me the opportunity to apply to go to MD Anderson Cancer Center, as this was something that I truly believe that I could not do it by my own means. After this experience I was determined onto becoming a Gynecology Oncology Fellow, because this experience was a true Eye Opener.

The “Eye Opener” was a thank you letter to IGCS, it was not just the name of the most popular morning coffee from the Cool Beans Cafe located on the second floor from the Duncan Building at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Instead it describes my experience and the new perspective of the world that I gained during my three-month observership in Houston sponsored by the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) traveling scholars program. I was also able to become involved in research projects and was even given my own review paper to write under their direction. They encouraged me to pursue research in my home country, something that I will keep on doing and try to inspire others just like me. Proof of this in 2016, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists awarded me, as Mentor of the Year.

Unfortunately, cervical cancer is the number one cause of death among women in Guatemala and the lack of access to health, makes this worst. I work at one of the biggest Public Hospitals in Guatemala, however resources are limited, but our willingness to go an extra mile is enormous. To see women being defeated by something that could have been prevented, it tears my heart. This women don´t just leave behind a family, they are the pillars of society itself. This is one of the reasons that makes me want to keep on pursuing to be a Gynecology Oncologist, I hope next year I will be part of the IGCS Gynecologic Oncology Global Curriculum and Mentorship program.