Prof Benn

For our first round table discussion of the year, The Wits Students’ Surgical Society was fortunate enough to host Professor Carol-Ann Benn: one of the top breast cancer experts in South Africa. Prof Benn explored her journey in getting to where she is today; and the obstacles she had to overcome in a male-dominated world focused on radical hysterectomies.

In a surprising twist, Prof Benn referenced one of her favorite doctors – Dr Seuss throughout her talk and to delve more into what it means to find that little niche of medicine that you are happy in. “Know what you like, and know what you don’t like” – simple, yet thought provoking words as Prof Benn explained her disdain for the stench of Gastrointestinal surgery or a necrosing diabetic foot. She went on to contemplate that even if there was a cure for breast cancer today, she would go out and find something new to love.

The participants were also provoked to reflect on our futures as surgeons in South Africa and how positive that future is. Prof pointed out just how many gaps there are that need to be filled by our generation, and how much further we still have to go in the world of Medicine: integrating sub specialties and improving research across all fields.

As part of the discussion, the participants were prompted to ask any questions they may have, which leaned towards the more personal aspects of her career and personal life. She opened up on managing to have a family life, dealing with the emotional side of medicine, and having to balance giving patient’s hope and being realistic.

The talk was thoroughly enjoyed by all involved as Prof Benn had to leave for her date night, giving us all some hope of a social life in surgery. The Wits Students’ Surgical Society is immensely grateful to Professor Benn for making time for us and putting in so much effort and passion into all that she does.