While learning about cancer at a molecular level while being a medical student, Omar Salman from Virginia Tech Carillon School of Medicine learned much more firsthand when he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, reported Augusta Free Press. Diagnosed his second year of school, he was still determined to finish. Salman continued to battle the disease while managing his schooling, and while he was eventually able to become cancer-free, the emotional toll was difficult.
Bone marrow cancer can be an aggressive disease. While Salman continued into his third year he managed both his treatments and his schooling with the help of the school’s administration assistance. Soon, the treatments worked and he became cancer-free, yet emotionally he was struggling. He said he was “better”, but questioned what “better” even means? Thankfully to many of his fellow students, he was able to get the physical and emotional support that he needed.
Despite having to go through such a difficult time, Salman pursued forward. Being a gay man who faced many challenges when he came out, Salman wanted to do something special for LGBTQ people and their community. He continues to advocate for the community’s health problems, as well as focus on promoting diversity in medicine. From his advocacy, he was honored the Point Foundation Scholar award in June of last year.
Additionally, he volunteers at Roanoke Diversity Center and took an active role in promoting patient access at the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation. He was even awarded another honor, receiving the Salute to Service Award in 2017. Salman continues to take his eye-opening and raw experiences of surviving cancer, being gay, as well as being an immigrant to make the world a better place.
In 2019 Salman will graduate and will pursue pediatric oncology and hematology. There he wants to not only treat patients for their diseases but give them the emotional support they deserve.