This week’s interview is with Cecilia – a super accomplished doctor (aka my mother’s dream child) with fantastic style (just look at her BB pumps and how well she wears them!). I really enjoyed having the opportunity to ask Cecilia some questions about her work, her advice for those who are thinking of entering the medical field, her on duty and off duty closet workhorses, and more. Enjoy meeting the fabulous Cecilia!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Cecilia and I am from Montreal. I am very grateful to be able to help others everyday in my work as a physician. It is a tremendous honor to carry on this responsibility.
Can you share a bit about the path that led you to become a physician?
It all seems to me like a blur… time has flown by so fast. I remember at age four, my grandmother asked me what I would like to do when I grow up. I just stared back – probably not the response you were expecting! My grandmother has a fond admiration for lawyers and told me that I would be good in this field. For many years, I have always thought that I would go to law school.
Unfortunately my grandfather died of cancer near the end of my high school years. I never saw him near the end of his life because our family in Asia did not tell us of his diagnosis and cancer treatments from us. I think that was due to a cultural difference, and I could not understand why they would think hiding his diagnosis was to relieve us from stress. I never felt so unsettled and to this day, I still wish that I had a chance to say my goodbye to him. My grandfather’s cancer has always been a mystery as my family refuses to talk about the details, what treatments he had, what options were available…etc. I am a person of curiosity and when there are unanswered questions, I like to pursue them which led me to reconsider my career choice. I knew that I only wanted to enter one particular medical school and was fortunate enough to have been accepted.
What are some of the most rewarding things about your job…and some of the most difficult?
My subspecialty area of interest is seeing patients with cancer. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to offer patients treatments and to see them improve even the slightest bit. People are so appreciative of our services. I always say that it is an honor to be part of their care and travel with them along their journey. I learn from my patients everyday and I go home reflecting these thoughts. I am so appreciative of my life and being gifted with a wonderful, enriching career.
The most difficult aspect of my job is obviously seeing treatment failure for cancer and having a patient with difficult to manage symptoms. There are always a few patients whose symptoms do not respond to conventional medications. I think as physicians, we have the mentality that we can to do everything and anything. However the reality is that this is not true at times and there is no magic pill to cure the disease. We are not good at dealing with ambiguity and most of us do not like to admit to this fact. So it is very stressful to patients, their family, and trying our best to work through ambiguity when you have exhausted most means of treatment already. However, I never give up on patients and it is important that they understand that we are always trying to help them in every way.
Do you have any advice for others looking to enter the medical profession?
Medicine is not for everyone. I neither encourage nor discourage youngsters in entering this field. However you need to find your passion in life, let it be law, medicine, sciences, fashion…etc. And always keep an open mind – what you think may be the best, may not necessarily be suitable for you, and do not be afraid to explore new interests.
I imagine you are run around all day. What do you wear usually underneath your white doctor’s coat? What are some of your “work workhorses”?
Yes, it gets very busy in the hospital and clinics! On an everyday basis, I actually look quite boring. My usual attire is either a nice blouse with black dress pants or skirt. If it is cold, I will wear add a cardigan or blazer jacket. Then I always wear a watch and my ring. I do not like to carry anything with flashy logos, monogramed bags, or excessive jewelry to work as I think they are not suitable in a professional environment.
My workhorse items are the following:
1. Prada Tessuto Vernice black nylon tote bag when I need to haul lots of stuff. I turn the logo side in toward me so that the back logo-less side faces out. This bag is amazing, light weight, chic, and carries a ton with the option of expanding the zippered sides.
2. Céline Trio which is great for days when I am in hospital. It is just not feasible to carry a big tote bag here, so a smaller bag for all my essentials go into one compartment, then my personal items go into another, and the last compartment is reserved for work papers.
I know you have an amazing closet. What are some of your overall clothing items ever?
I’m a big fan of jackets and coats. I don’t like to think too much about what I’m wearing underneath. Sometimes I just need to go out for a quick errand, but a good piece of outerwear can pull together a great look.
My go to jacket year round is my Rick Owens “laced cords” blistered leather jacket. It’s great for a chilly summer night and warm enough for spring and fall. I love how edgy it looks, yet there’s that raw hint of glamour hidden beneath the darkness.
On a different note, I like to dress up for special events and I have a very feminine side to me as well. My favorite dresses are by Roland Mouret. It’s always a dilemma for me to choose my absolute favorite amongst my small collection, but I would have to say the Ezra dress has the most amazing neckline. I was once told by a team of 5 professional tailors that the craftsmanship of this dress is impeccably complicated and would take dozens of hours to create despite how simple it looks. From then on, I knew the money spent on Roland Mouret’s dresses is well worth it!
How about some of your favorite accessories – like shoes and bags?
For bags, I have four favorites:
1. Louis Vuitton Monogram Motard Biker which was a limited edition runway bag from fall/winter 2007 – my favorite season dedicated to Vermeer and with Scarlet Johansson in the campaigns. I actually only carried this bag about five times. I feel like it’s so special that I don’t want to ruin it, but usually I never baby my bags!
2. Chanel Reissue 226 in “blanc foncé” (dark white) – a gift from my parents when I graduated a few years ago. I’m usually not into Chanel, but the marble effect of ivory and light gold is beautiful. I use this bag only on special occasions.
3. Balenciaga Giant City in a gorgeous saturated “Lagon” color and with the new mini giant hardware in rose gold! I know the new hardware was a disappointment with many Bal fans, but I think it has also attracted new customers. I love the carefree style of the City bags. It’s definitely one of my go-to bags for everyday use.
4. Céline croc-embossed Phantom which is a phenomenal design with the wings and tassels. Simple, easy to carry and get in/out of the bag quickly to grab things that you need. Not to mention that it’s so effortlessly cool!
For shoes, it depends on my mood and several pairs have a special place in my heart.
1. Christian Louboutin Ostrich Mad Marta – very limited and hard to find. Although impractical, I bought these when a friend and I both needed some serious retail therapy. It was one of those crazy fun days that you won’t forget in your youth!
2. Christian Louboutin Pêche Soleil Altadama – also a very hard to find item that my sales associate was kind enough to save for me. It reminds me of the Little Mermaid which is one of my favorite childhood Disney movies!
3. Christian Louboutin Leopard Maggie – most Louboutin fans will remember the Maggie frenzie and how popular they were when they just came out. Everyone was in anticipation of the next season’s Maggie styles, and it took me quite some effort to convince myself that I needed these too!
4. Christian Louboutin Pigalle 120 – every woman needs this shoe! It’s the epitome of the CL brand and its silhouette is absolute perfection.
5. Manolo Blahnik Lace Satin BB – a Neiman Marcus exclusive that made me fall in love with the BB style when it first came out. I particularly love this version and think it’s perfect for anyone needing “something blue” for their special day.
6. Christian Louboutin Patent Tortoise Lady Claude – one of my go-to favorites as the pitch supports my arch perfectly. I love the tiny platform and peeptoes. This shoe always gives me so many compliments wherever I go.
7. Christian Louboutin Very Galaxy – a real piece of art with all sequins sewn on by hand. It’s my special shoe for Valentine’s Day that I wear each year.
What are some items that were a splurge at the time…but that you’re glad you purchased? How about the reverse – anything that you wish you hadn’t added?
I probably splurge too often! Recently, I think my best splurge was on a Céline snakeskin Luggage bag. I have been wanting a Luggage for a year but could not really decide which type of leather and color combination. I was not looking at exotics initially as they are significantly more expensive but my SA had recommended it to me and from the moment that I saw it, I knew this was the one!
On the other hand, I thought Bottega Veneta’s “Veneta” hobo bag might be a good option for me. Their bags are discrete, classy, and with impeccable craftsmanship. It turned out that I never carried this bag once…
I’ve always thought that my ultra holy grail shoes were Christian Louboutin’s Forever Tina that I missed out on purchasing when they first came out. Then I had a second chance when a pair popped up on sale at my local boutique, but I passed because I was too picky (the insole was wrinkled). Then I went on for the next five years searching for these shoes and when I finally found a decent pair on eBay, I thought that my life was now complete!
Although the price was now a fraction of the original cost, I find it difficult to wear with my wardrobe. So I haven’t worn these out once yet! I am beginning to think that maybe these shoes were not meant to be for me afterall…
What’s a piece of advice you could share about building an ideal wardrobe? Any mistakes that you made in the past that you learned from?
Stick with classic, wearable pieces! Leave the runway items for the models! However, don’t be afraid to invest in expensive clothing and a good tailor can work magic.
Mistakes? Probably a lot! I have a very diverse clothing collection from simple everyday pieces, to edgy clothing, and to glamorous dresses. Fashion is fun and a way to express yourself when you are “in the moment.” So I tend to think that as long as in the moment, I am happy with what I am wearing then that is what’s most important. If I look back, of course fashion trends change and probably everything I once wore was passé in the current eye. Should I be embarrassed or regret my decisions? Not at all! I like to get a good laugh at myself once in while too!
How about a piece of life advice?
Live in the moment and do what makes you happy now, don’t worrying about the past or future.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
I enjoy playing piano, volleyball, photography, Photoshop, traveling, and I love animals!
Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!
I was quite a tom boy when I was young! I hung out with all the boys and enjoyed playing tag, toy guns, and swords way more than being with the girls and their Barbie dolls or gossiping. I should also mention that I’m really good at foosball!