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Dr. Aqeela Sirkhotte’s Passion for Oncology at Rondebosch Cancercare

Written By Cancercare Editor

Dr. Aqeela Sirkhotte’s path to oncology wasn’t a straight line. This Rondebosch oncologist, a valued member of the Cancercare team, brings a unique blend of experience and empathy to her work. She originally considered dentistry, but a career counselor helped her discover her true calling: using medicine to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Finding Her Calling in Medicine

Originally drawn to dentistry, Dr. Sirkhotte, a Cape Town native, discovered her true passion after consulting a career counselor. “I always knew I wanted to be in health sciences,” she says, “but the counselor helped me see how well my personality suited the empathy required in medicine.” Following her undergraduate studies at UCT, she completed an internship at Groote Schuur. While general practice initially appealed to her, experiences working at a day hospital’s HIV/TB clinic and a Goodwood medical center solidified her interest in patient interaction.

A Spark Ignites a Passion for Oncology

Volunteering at Tygerberg Oncology’s follow-up clinic was a turning point for Dr. Sirkhotte. “Witnessing the potential to improve or even cure patients’ lives,” she explains, “was incredibly inspiring. The continuous advancements in oncology sealed the deal for me.” Dr. Sirkhotte’s approach extends far beyond treatment itself.

Empathy and a Holistic Approach

Dr. Sirkhotte’s approach extends far beyond just treatment protocols. She emphasises the importance of understanding a patient’s medical history and family dynamics.

“Cancer is a journey,” Dr. Sirkhotte says. “And this journey is not taken alone. It’s a road with many passengers.”

She takes pride in her thorough patient history-taking and building strong connections with families. She also praises the Rondebosch Cancercare team for their holistic approach, highlighting the social worker, nurses and other specialists who provide vital support to patients.

Communication is Key

Effective communication is paramount for Dr. Sirkhotte. She ensures patients understand their treatment goals and the supportive environment they can expect throughout their journey. Recognizing the emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis, she prioritizes empathy and offers examples of how family counseling and social worker involvement have benefitted her patients.

“It’s important that when a patient walks out of my room that they understand what the goals of treatment are, what the intention is, and how we will support them along the journey,” Dr. Sirkhotte says. “Because they need to use our practice feeling that they’re going to be better off. They need to feel confident that they’re being cared for and that they will be supported. Because it’s very daunting when you hear you have to get chemotherapy.”

Looking Ahead

Dr. Sirkhotte’s dedication extends beyond simply treating the disease. She is committed to exceeding expectations and highlights the importance of her role in alleviating suffering, even beyond curative possibilities. Looking ahead, she aspires to develop expertise in specific areas like lung cancer, breast cancer, and gynaecological malignancies.

Balancing her career with motherhood (she’s a proud mom of three boys!) exemplifies Dr. Sirkhotte’s dedication and the strength of her support system. Dr. Sirkhotte’s story sheds light on her remarkable journey, her unwavering commitment to patient care, and the Rondebosch Cancercare team’s dedication to excellence.