Waylene A. Wang, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
I strive to educate and empower my patients as they face cancer.”
Why do you practice oncology?
Waylene Wang, MD is the medical director at SCCA Radiation Oncology at UW Medicine’s Northwest Hospital and Medical Center. As a physician, she “strives to educate and empower” her patients as they face cancer. “I like stories,” she said. “Both the telling and hearing of others. It is a privilege to share a part of my patients’ stories as they take this journey.” Dr. Wang became a physician because she sought a challenge. “Of course at the time I had no idea what challenges were ahead,” she said. “Pre-medical studies couldn’t compare with the onslaught of material to be learned in medical school.” Then the training became more clinical and more practical the longer she was in medicine. “I felt as though I had discovered reality, people living life authentically as they face their fears with vulnerability and the whole gamut of human emotions.” She was in her first month of internship in internal medicine at the Veteran’s hospital when she cared for a patient who had metastatic lung cancer. “Every morning on rounds, he would tell me how much pain he was in from a forearm bone metastasis. No matter how I adjusted and increased his pain medication, he was miserable. I knew he was going to the basement for radiation to his lung primary. Finally, in desperation I said, ‘When you go for your lung radiation, can you ask them if they can stick your arm in the beam, too?’ He came back with purple ink on his forearm. After one fraction, he said, ‘I could kiss you. I had my first good night’s sleep since I’ve been here.’ So I was intrigued. What goes on in the basement in radiation oncology? And I was hooked. I haven’t looked back since and feel blessed to be in the best specialty.” Outside of work, Dr. Wang enjoys spending time with her family and friends, long conversations, travel, and reading.