Dr. Michael Noble dedicated his entire career—more than 40 years—to treating patients with cancer and blood diseases at Royal Columbian Hospital.
For the majority this time, he was the only hematologist and oncologist at the site. This is remarkable for any physician, let alone one who hadn’t originally intended to become a doctor.
“When I was in university I thought I would pursue a career in research and biochemistry,” Dr. Noble recalls. “But by the end of my degree I realized my life would be a fairly quiet one without much interaction with people. I decided I would be much happier in medicine.”
After finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Noble went on to attend medical school at Harvard University and then pursue medical training at Mount Sinai Hospital.
He started at Royal Columbian Hospital in 1976. From that time until 2015 he was the only oncologist at the hospital, and up until 2009 he was the only hematologist. “When I first started at Royal Columbian, those departments were not recognized as unique specialties,” Dr. Noble explains. “They have since explosively expanded.”
As the only physician on those units for those many years, Dr. Noble was effectively on-call 24/7. “He would go above and beyond to ensure patients received treatment in a timely manner,” Jenifer Wan, a clinical pharmacist who worked closely with Dr. Noble says. “When he was away from the clinic he would always have his mobile on and ready to respond to texts and calls right away. He was always responsible and there for his patients.”
When Dr. Noble noticed that many cancer patients needed to drive into Vancouver for their frequent treatments at the BC Cancer Agency, he started a community oncology program out of Royal Columbian Hospital and his private clinic to ensure patients could receive treatment closer to home. The program continues to this day.
Dr. Noble retired this past March, and when asked what kept him going in such a tough field for so many years, he said, “It always impresses me what inner strength people and their families have. To see their resilience after a diagnosis and their determination carry on with their lives and to use the time they have well.”
Dr. Gerald da Roza, medical lead for internal medicine nominated him, saying, “Dr. Noble has made a significant contribution to our hospital, and patients and staff will tell you they have never met another physician with the level of commitment Dr. Noble has given to Fraser Health. He is a lifetime advocate for hematologic and oncologic patients and he is worthy of this award.”
Dr. Michael Noble is the recipient of this year’s Above and Beyond Lifetime Achievement Award.