Valley People: Oncologist values relationships with patients
by Sandi Olson
Apr 18, 2013 | 1406 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dr. Glenn Wong of Scotts Valley has made a career out of poking people with needles to diagnose blood disorders. He also does everything possible to make his patients feel comfortable and help them get back on track.

I met him in 2008, shortly after completing surgery and treatment for breast cancer. Because my oncologist was no longer covered by our insurance, I was forced to find another doctor.

It was difficult to change oncologists, but Wong’s friendly, compassionate nature put me at ease right away.

“I love developing a relationship with my patients,” Wong said. “They become my teachers. We work together every step of the way to ensure that proper treatment is given. They’re like family.”

Born in 1973, Wong and his older sister, Dana, were raised in Alameda. His father, Donald, was a pharmacist, and his mother, Elaine, worked as an elementary school teacher.

“Even though my dad worked long hours, I have fond memories of fishing together and helping him work on his rental properties,” Wong said. “I also enjoyed sports, especially tennis and lacrosse.”

Wong considered going into the medical field in high school.

“I became fascinated by human biology and how the body works,” he said. “I also excelled in math and physics. This helped steer me in the direction I decided to go in college.”

Wong attended University of California, Davis, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1996. He received his medical degree from Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo in 2001.

The following year, he met Uyen Hoang, an optometry student, through a shared friend. They were married in 2002 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He completed his internship in internal medicine at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center, a teaching affiliate of Tufts University in Boston, Mass.

“After being exposed to the multiple phases of internal medicine during rotations, I decided that I wanted to go into the field of hematology and oncology,” Wong said. “I enjoyed looking at blood under a microscope in order to diagnose blood cancer. I also thought there was a better chance to bond with my patients in this field.”

Wong and his family moved to Scotts Valley in 2008 after he was offered an oncology and hematology position at Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Santa Cruz. His wife was also hired at the clinic as an optometrist.

He spoke about the hardest part of his job — losing a patient.

“I’ve seen more than my share of loss,” Wong said. “But this is a part of life. What’s touching is the resilience of the human spirit and the courage we witness. People with a strong faith and a positive outlook seem to tolerate treatment better, and they are usually more accepting of the outcome.”

At 40, Wong is working with PAMF to develop a survivor program to help patients get back on track after they leave the hospital. This would include a team of professionals including psychiatrists, primary care doctors and counselors.

“A lot of people have survivor issues that need to be addressed,” he added.

Off the job, Wong loves to mountain bike in the redwoods. He also likes to surf.

“When I’m biking in the redwoods I can leave all that stress behind me and just focus on the beauty around me,” Wong said. “It’s the same thing when I’m surfing in the ocean.”

He also enjoys the simple things, such as time with his wife and the laughter of his two children, Sierra, 7, and Evan, 5.

“I’m just a regular guy who wants to make a difference in our community,” Wong said. “I love Scotts Valley and feel so blessed to live in this area.”

- Sandi Olson of Scotts Valley is a writer, speaker and teacher. She writes about interesting people in Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley. Email her at sandiolson@comcast.net.

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