I Am an Artist
"I learned from a young age to be resilient and embrace my artistic side. You have to be creative to fight cancer."
Vlada Kalutski was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of fifteen. Born in Belarus in 1988, just two years after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, it is possible she was exposed to radiation in milk as a young child.
Vlada's family came to the United States when she was just three years old, searching for a more stable, safe and productive life. They landed in Gaithersburg, MD, just ten minutes from Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. She later said, "I was incredibly lucky to have a leading expert in thyroid cancer so close."
For the past seven years, Dr. Vijay Varma, Director of the Thyroid Program at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, has been Vlada’s physician. She has undergone two surgeries and several rounds of treatments. There is now no evidence of the disease in her system.
Vlada recounts that she basically grew up under the care of Dr. Varma and his team. The Thyroid Program at Shady Grove involves a collaboration of expert physicians, oncology nurses specially trained in managing thyroid patients, and a Cancer Care Navigation Team. “Cancer was part of my life, my childhood," Vlada says. "Dr. Varma made everything so easy for me. He listened to me. He made me feel comfortable, dealing with me as a child, on my level. I felt so blessed."
Vlada recently graduated from the George Washington University with an undergraduate degree in International Relations. An accomplished violinist, she speaks three languages, and is now attending law school.
"I hope to work in international development, as a consultant. I want to make a difference."