Dr. Tiscar Cavalle : A Woman With Heart
When did you realize you wanted to be a doctor?
Not that early. I started medical school at almost 18 years old. I loved anatomy, physiology, physics and I wanted to have human contact. I did not want to be a physicist or a scientist, so the best option for me was medicine. That’s what led me to the medical field.
What brought you from Spain to the Children’s?
I started working at SickKids - the Hospital for Sick Children - in Toronto. That’s where I met my husband who’s from Montreal. We decided to come here to be close to his parents. I can’t imagine working anywhere else. I love working here. My job is so fulfilling!
If you were not a pediatric cardiologist, what career would you have chosen?
I love education, so I would probably have become a teacher. As the director of the training program, I do a lot of teaching with residents from many specialties, so I’m really lucky. I love it!
What working closely with the families taught you?
So many things. First of all, the constant reminder of the privilege of treating children. It’s not a job; it’s an honour. Parents put in your hands the person they love the most: their child. That trust reminds me every time that my job is a privilege. I also learn to put things in perspective; it helps me to stay grounded. The families are so inspiring! For example, some families embrace the problem, they raise funds, they bring awareness and they help other families. It’s unbelievable!
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Giving bad news - usually to pregnant women - is definitely the most difficult part. I have to prepare myself first because, no matter how often you have to do this, it’s as difficult every time. You have to take a deep breath and go in. That’s why I always try to find out how much the family knows. Some families come with an idea of the situation, for some others, it’s a huge surprise. The first thing I do is to make sure the parents understand it’s not their fault. It’s just bad luck. Then I provide a detailed explanation with pictures, and potential solutions. I take my time with them: sometimes they need 1 or 2 hours of counselling. I make them understand that our whole team will be there for them all along the way. Everything is taken care of so the families can concentrate on the problem.
Being a doctor comes with huge responsibilities, how do you unwind?
I spent family time or quality time with friends. I do some cooking, some reading – I love to read my daughter’s fantasy books. I also got into gardening. I love it… surprisingly!
What surprising fact can you tell us about yourself?
I like to do crazy things. I can’t wait for my daughter to turn 18, so we can go skydiving together!
Apparently, you like to bake. What is your favorite comfort food?
Yes, I like to bake dessert, fruit pies, but my favorite thing is chocolate banana bread. It’s just perfect with a cup of tea.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Without hesitation, I would say to be able to cure all the children with congenital heart disease.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like people to remember me as somebody who cared. That’s human spirit.