Some people may find it odd but the fact is, that for me, my work in the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH) brings satisfaction and a feeling of fulfilment.
I was a doctor with the ambulance service and from time to time we were called out to cases involving terminally ill children. Each time I was at a loss how to help them, I mean to really help them. It was only when I came to BCH that I realised that here they know what to do and that their work makes a real, tangible difference. Palliative medicine is a completely new area of medicine in Belarus and this also makes it an attractive challenge for a young doctor like me although, I have to say, some of the challenges we face are not easy.
What follows are a few facts about my background but I wanted to start off with something a bit more personal, hence this foreword.
I was born in 1983 in Minsk, the capital of what was then the Belarusian Soviet Republic: part of the USSR, the largest country in the world. My mother is Russian and, two years before I was born, she came to live in the Belarusian Soviet Republic from the Russian city of Novokuznetsk. My father is Belarusian and has spent his whole life in Minsk. I have one brother who is two years my junior. Now I also have a wife, Olga, and a six year old daughter called Lera.
I had a happy childhood in a loving family. The summers were spent at my grandmother’s house in the country. At school I liked the humanitarian subjects, sometimes finding difficulty with maths and science, but on the whole I was a good student and straight after finishing school I was accepted by the Belarusian Medical College.
I enjoyed studying and managed to combine it with part time work as a night orderly on hospital wards and, later, as a nurse in a medical unit.
In 2003 I graduated as a medical assistant and midwife. It was then that I started working with the ambulance service and went out as part of the medical emergency team. I stayed in that job until 2005 when I decided to go back to medical college to study paediatrics at Grodno University. During my further studies I worked nights on the ambulance service.
In 2011 I graduated and came back to Minsk to do a one year housemanship in paediatrics. Since 2012, I have been working part-time at both the First Children’s Polyclinic in Minsk and the Belarusian Children’s Hospice. During my time at BCH, I have travelled to the UK and Poland to undertake hospice familiarisation programmes and have been at conferences organised by BCH. I recently worked out the last few weeks of my notice at the Polyclinic and I am now a full-time doctor and project manager at the Belarusian Children’s Hospice, which is where my vocation lies.