Growing up, Dr. Vanisha Patel dreamed of following the career path of either doctor or astronaut. Both professions would push her limits physically and mentally, and each new day on the job would be a wild ride, but caring for sick children ultimately won her heart. She discovered her true calling in medicine early in her undergraduate years after watching family and friends battle cancer.
Today, as Akron Children’s newest pediatric hematologist-oncologist in our Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancers and Blood Disorders, Dr. Patel diagnoses and treats children and adolescents with cancer and blood disorders, and specializes in hematopoietic stem cell transplants. In her new role, she cherishes most building lifelong relationships with patients and families, while being there for them during their most vulnerable time in their lives.
While Dr. Patel admits many days are extremely difficult and trying, especially when she meets with a family for the first time and has to tell them their child has cancer, interacting with kids makes it easy for her to get up each morning and come to work.
“Even when kids aren’t feeling well,” she said, “they still have this amazing ability to make me smile and laugh.”
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
I initially chose Akron Children’s in 2016 for my pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship training. Then after completing an additional fellowship elsewhere, I chose to return here because of the amazing relationships I cultivated during my fellowship and the incredible work environment at Akron Children’s.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
In my role as a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, I have the privilege of providing care to children and adolescents with cancer and blood disorders.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
After completing my fellowship training in hematology, oncology and stem cell transplant, I have chosen to specialize in hematopoietic stem cell transplant in children and adolescents with both malignant and nonmalignant disorders. It is the critical care aspect of this field and working within interdisciplinary teams that I truly enjoy.
When did you decide to become a provider and why?
I knew I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist early on in my undergraduate years after watching family and friends battle cancer. As a pediatric oncologist, not only do I get to build lifelong relationships with my patients and their families, but I’m also able to be there for them during the most vulnerable time in their lives.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope my patients get an impression of comfort and trust from me. I hope each child and family leave feeling that they have been seen and heard, and that they trust me to deliver the best possible care.
What do you think is the hardest part of your job?
Meeting a family for the first time and telling them that their child has cancer or that their child may not survive due to their cancer diagnosis is the most difficult part of my job.
What is the easiest part of your job?
The kids! Even when they aren’t feeling well, they still have this amazing ability to make me smile and laugh.
What would you most like to change about health care today?
I hope for equal access to health care.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the small town of Port Arthur, in southeast Texas.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My family includes my husband, Tushar, our 2-year-old daughter, Alia, and our newborn son, Rihaan. I am also very lucky to live within minutes of my in-laws, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be either an astronaut or doctor.
What are your favorite podcasts, books, movies or TV shows?
My favorite books include the “Harry Potter” series and “When Breath Becomes Air.” My favorite movies are the “Harry Potter” series and my favorite TV show is “Friends.”
What’s your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is Diwali (the Hindu New Year). It is a time for family and friends, and delicious food!