Dr. Sagar Shah – Part 1

“I’ve been a practicing dentist for over eight years. I love my profession, but it’s been quite a ride. I’ve always loved the fact that I’ve been able to continue to learn. Our field has no ceiling; you can always keep things fresh. It’s been an exciting career choice. Even within that, though, there have been stressful times—not only physically, but mentally. It can sometimes seem like a rat race… I’ve always had this kind of background feeling of certain untapped potential that, for whatever reason, was being put on the back burner. I just hoped one day I’d get to it, but dentistry was consuming me… In 2020 I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. It was a devastating moment; I had all types of mixed feelings—anger, shame, and even wondering if I had anything to do with it. I remember thinking I was so young, with so much life to live, that there were so many things I didn’t get to do… Thankfully, I’m now in remission. But, looking back, I actually see the whole experience as a gift to some degree. It changed my perspective, shifted my mindset, and helped me see things in new ways that’ll hopefully benefit me going forward… The biggest thing was the gift of free time. I’ve lived a pretty linear life—high school, college, dental school, work, and so on. Everything led from one thing to another. Adulthood became boring in some ways—work, come home, Netflix, dinner, sleep, repeat. It suppressed this essence of who I am. I often hear about that from people—especially dentists… My time with chemotherapy and my time away from work really allowed me to slow down and see what’s important. I was even able to nurture some things I wanted to do. Currently, I have a favorable prognosis. The way I look at it, well, I’m not gonna die. Being a man of science, the odds say I should come out of this—that I’ll be able to turn another page. But when things were starting to unfold, I asked myself, ‘What am I going to make of this journey?’ I didn’t want to be classified by my illness.”