02 May 2023 Couple of the Month: Grace Raja, MD, and Vijay Raja, MD
Education: I have a Bachelor of Science from the University of California-Los Angeles and completed my medical degree at UT Southwestern in Dallas.
Job: CARTI Cancer Center
Children: We have three children who are 6, 7 and 9 years old.
Community/church activities: We love being a part of the amazing work being done at the Arkansas Foodbank.
Hobbies/special interests: Attending children’s activities, riding my Peloton and shopping at Ted Baker.
describe yourself: I hope people see me as a warm, generous, humble hard-working human!
A FACT MOST don’t know: I’m constantly listening to EDM (electronic dance music)!
What do you love about the 501: I love the people here in Arkansas the most!
What is your motto: Stay positive, work hard and be kind!
Education: I have a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.; I completed my medical degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, La.; and, I have an M.B.A. from the University of Texas-Dallas.
JOb: Arkansas Heart Hospital
Community activities: My wife and I are involved with the Arkansas Foodbank.
Hobbies/special interests: All sports, my children, wife and family.
Describe yourself: I am hard-working, passionate and caring.
A FACT MOST don’t know: I didn’t speak English until I was 5 years old. I was born in the U.S. but raised by my grandparents in India until then. I yearned to fit into my new surroundings and quickly forgot my first language.
What do you love about the 501: There isn’t a day that goes by without a friendly greeting — what a joy to live where people are genuinely happy to see one another!
What is your motto: “We’re all just rough drafts of the people we’re still becoming.” — Bob Goff
Vijay and I first met when I “pimped” (medical slang for INTENSE questioning) him in front of our entire residency program during a lunch conference fondly referred to as “Potpourri” at Parkland Hospital. He was a lowly intern, and I was a second-year resident. We were then friends for years until one day he got the courage to ask me to a drug-rep dinner! We have been inseparable since that first date in 2010. Our wedding took place at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas on Nov. 18, 2012. We had a Hindu/Catholic ceremony with various traditions, including Vijay riding on a horse down Main Street in downtown Dallas. We came to Little Rock when Vijay landed a dream job with Arkansas Heart Hospital. I was lucky enough to find my dream job at CARTI eight months after we moved here. We are the best of friends, and we make each other laugh and lift each other up when we have had tough days in the hospital. Each year, it becomes more and more apparent that we were meant for each other.
My love for oncology began early in my residency when I cared for oncology patients in the medicine wards. Patients diagnosed with cancer have a unique outlook on life. It humbles me to see patients with terminal illnesses remain positive, patient and kind throughout their diagnoses. I also really enjoy seeing families rally together around their loved ones. In addition, I like to read and am a lifelong student, which is also a good fit for oncology due to the ever-changing landscape of new treatments.
It is a privilege to care for oncology patients. It puts my life and troubles into perspective, helps me stay grounded and not “sweat the small stuff.” It sometimes can bite me, though, because what may be big problems for my loved ones, I do not consider it as “life or death!” It can be difficult at times to “leave work at work,” but I am grateful for my family and partners at CARTI, who help me stay positive.
The best part of my job is giving good news to my patients! I have trained and studied to do it for the better part of my life. However, I am humbled by being with my patients when they receive bad news, and a special part of my job is walking alongside them during a difficult part of their lives.