Skip to main content

Talks with Docs: Jonathan Tward, MD, PhD

You know there’s so many favorites it’s hard to say what the favorite part of my job is, and I mean that honestly.

I became a radiation oncologist basically by sort of lucking into it. When I was an undergraduate I was exploring different majors and I wanted to do something in the biological sciences and thought that I would see what biological sciences were about by offering to volunteer in research labs. I saw what it was like to be a scientist in radiation oncology and I saw what it was like to be a physician.

What is the best part of working at Huntsman Cancer Institute?

I really enjoy the strong doctor-patient bond that oncology engenders. The stakes are very high when you’re talking about cancer and so that’s a pretty unique relationship I have with my patients. A lot to be said for working amongst some of the smartest people with some of the best patients and most willing volunteers. When I see my patients in follow up I know about their families and about their hobbies and we usually spend a significant amount of our clinic time just sort of catching up.

Is it true you’re on your way to the Olympics?

Yes, I am definitely an athlete, as a curler might say tongue-in-cheek. This started out I’d say about eight or nine years ago with some friends of mine. We were all around 40 and we didn’t know what we could do that could possibly get us in the Olympics with our middle-aged bodies. Initially, we started playing and one of the team members is one of my best friends and he ended up being diagnosed with an incredibly advanced stage IV kidney cancer. It was the kind of cancer that he should have died from about six months into the diagnosis but we actually came up with a pretty interesting therapy here at Huntsman about six ears ago and he’s alive and well and doing great and we’re still curling and we have two silver medals in some of the regional events.

When you’re not being a doc, what do you like to do?

Anything outdoor recreation with my family. We spend a lot of time in our RV and we like to go boating and kayaking and biking. I love to fish. I spend a lot of time dreaming about fishing and thinking about fishing. But we spend on average about 45 nights a year outdoors as a family, somewhere far away that cell phones don’t work.

Jonathan Tward and family in the Rocky Mountains

What have you learned from your patients?

They’ve taught me that if you always delay gratification something might come up that maybe makes it not possible to do. So it’s definitely seize the day and smell the roses while you can.

Learn more about radiation oncology.

Learn more about Jonathan Tward, MD, PhD.

Cancer touches all of us.