For the past three months, oncologist Dr Jose Leal has been settling into Mildura and his new role at Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre.
The addition of the Chilean born specialist will further boost cancer care in the Sunraysia region, with Dr Leal to work alongside Mildura’s only other permanent oncologist, Dr Krishna Rachakonda.
After completing his training in Chile in 2014, Dr Leal worked as a consultant, particularly treating lung cancer patients and urological malignancies in hospitals.
Wanting an international experience, he set his sights on Australia, arriving in Melbourne in 2019 to work at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
When it wasn’t possible to obtain a full-time role as a qualified oncologist at the centre, Dr Leal sought out other opportunities, particularly looking at regional areas.
“I spoke with Krishna and saw an opportunity where they were looking for someone to come to Mildura for a long time,” he said.
“It was very interesting because they were developing the Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre, which was something that obviously took away a lot of the complications that existed prior for patients and for the treating physicians as well.
“With the new radiation therapy machine, that will be a game-changer for all of the local cancer patients.”
Dr Leal said taking all factors of the role and location into consideration, it was up to his wife and three children to then decide if they were ready for such a big change.
“I spoke to my family about whether they wanted to take the adventure and go to Mildura.
“It is very different from Melbourne and completely different to our situation in Chile, but we decided to give it a go.”
Dr Leal said he was now focused on ensuring local patients had improved cancer care and building relationships with other medical professionals.
“My main goal is to develop a strong practise at Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre and at the public hospital as well and develop networks with other doctors, GPs, palliative care teams and surgeons in the area so we can work together to improve outcomes for patients,” he said.
Since starting in the role, Dr Leal said he had been heartened by how accepting and grateful everyone had been of him and his family.
“My kids are going to school here and my wife is also a doctor and is starting the process to validate her paperwork.
“So far, the community has been fantastic and everyone has been very welcoming to my family and I.
“I’m already seeing that I’m making a difference for a lot of patients, who are very appreciative of my work. It’s been great. I'm very happy here.”