Dr. Mohammad Talaizadeh may be 8,000 miles from his home country of Iran, but the influence of his family, who encouraged him to pursue a medical career nearly 40 years ago, is still very close to his heart.
Dr. Talaizadeh, who goes by Dr. Talai, credits an older brother-in-law for opening his eyes to a profession he never really considered as a teenage boy.
“I was interested in chemistry in high school, but my brother-in-law encouraged me to become a doctor so that I could help others,” Dr. Talai said.
With his family’s support and encouragement, he attended Isfahan University Medical School in Isfahan, Iran, followed by a pediatric residency at Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, Conn.
“At that time I was interested in becoming an ENT (ear, nose and throat) physician. I had a good surgical hand,” Dr. Talai said.
During his initial training, Dr. Talai completed a thesis on osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in children. It was the first step in his path to becoming a pediatric hematologist-oncologist. Following his pediatric residency,he then completed a pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at the University of Connecticut in Farmington.
While he was in Maryland, completing a visiting fellowship in the pediatric branch of the National Cancer Institute, an OB-GYN friend from Akron encouraged him to come here to practice. (Coincidentally, he had previously applied for a residency at Akron Children’s.)
He took the doctor’s advice and moved to the area in the early 1980s. At that point, he went into private practice as a general practitioner in Cuyahoga Falls.
In August of 1983, Dr. Talai joined Akron Children’s as a member of the pediatric hematology-oncology staff. He is thrilled to be part of an organization that is so clearly focused on helping children.
While he may have left his family behind in his quest to become a doctor, he has become a part of so many other families over the years.
“The most gratifying part of my job is seeing my patients not only survive, but thrive and become healthy, productive adults,” he said.
In 2011, he witnessed three of his patients getting married. Now 29, they were 3 years old when Dr. Talai diagnosed them with cancer.
While it can be emotionally difficult to help families face the challenges of a serious illness, Dr. Talai marvels at the strength he has witnessed in so many families.
“They are fragmented, but they are coping,” he said.
As for his own family, if it weren’t for their love and support, he might not have chosen a career in medicine, or touched so many lives along the way.
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