Gregorio Delgado was born in 1941 in the small town of Tarapoto on the fringes of the Amazon rain forest. At that time his community had no electricity, running water, radio, or public transportation. Walking everywhere was a way of life and Dr. Delgado saw his first car and made his first phone call when, at the age of fourteen, he attended high school in Lima.
His father, in the early 1900’s, had become a Doctor of Medicine in Barcelona, returning to care for the needy in the jungle towns and villages of the region. He encouraged his son to become a doctor and the first step on a long journey began with his studies at the Trujillo Medical College where he graduated. Encouraged by the management of Project Hope - the US floating hospital non-profit program – he elected to pursue his medical career in the United States.
In the early part of Trails from Tarapoto he writes of his boyhood and the deep relationship he had with his parents, particularly with his father who became a local legend for his work in treating the sick. This stage of his life generated numerous amusing and touching anecdotes reflecting the simple life as he, with his family, traveled the tributaries of the Amazon and hiked the winding trails of the rain forest.
Life begins in earnest when he works as an intern at the Sister’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York and later qualifies as a cancer surgeon following further studies and surgical experience in Houston, Texas, and at the Georgetown Medical School. Adapting to the American way of life leads to additional anecdotes which will be of interest to anyone considering a similar path.
This is not a text book and is not intended as a reference for anyone studying surgical techniques, but it does provide insight into what goes on in the mind of the man ‘behind the mask’. In the section entitled The Cathedral of Learning his focus turns to his patients and how they and their loved ones handled the threat of cancer and the prospect of prolonged, and possibly life-threatening, procedures. These recollections are very human and will be of value to those anxious to appreciate this critical aspect of patient care.
His section on Mortality also provides a valuable insight into an issue that surgeons have to face on a daily basis.
By the time he became Tenure Professor at Georgetown University he had established an international reputation for his impressive work in the fields of surgery, research, and teaching. In the latter pages, his views on the future of surgery as they relate to robotic surgery and advances in chemo and radiation therapy, make very interesting reading.