In celebration of National Siblings Day on April 10, Brigham Bulletin is highlighting an unlikely pair: twin brothers Rosh Sethi, MD, MPH, of the Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, and Roshan Sethi, MD, of the Department of Radiation Oncology.
When patients entered the primary care clinic of Asha Sethi, MD, in Calgary, Alberta, they could expect two precocious and enthusiastic individuals to assist them at the front desk: her 10-year-old twin boys, Rosh and Roshan, who often shared a single chair as they checked in patients and retrieved their paper charts.
Quite literally underfoot in their mother’s clinic as children, the Sethi twins say this early exposure to patient care put them on the path — nearly the same one, in fact — to their own medical careers. Both trained at the Brigham and continue to practice here today.
“We just lived in that clinic. We had our entire childhood there,” recalled Roshan, who splits his time between caring for cancer patients as a radiation oncologist and writing and directing film and TV in Hollywood.
“Being of service was something we were taught from a very young age, mainly by our mother,” he added. “Medicine can be a noble, selfless profession, and that was very much the way our mom did it. She would arrive early and stay late. She took care of thousands of patients in the northeast of Calgary, which was an area heavily populated by immigrants where primary care options were limited.”
With encouragement from their mother, the brothers began volunteering as young teens at Tom Baker Cancer Centre, serving high tea to patients. The experience further inspired them, as both gravitated toward areas of medicine involving cancer in their adulthood.
Rosh, a surgeon specializing in complex head and neck tumors and microvascular reconstruction, also studies innovations in treating such cancers as a researcher with the Center for Surgery and Public Health. His areas of focus include oncologic care health outcomes and cost-reduction measures for patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer.
“We had an early exposure to medicine, but for some reason I was hooked on surgery at a very young age,” Rosh said. “I would read Grey’s Anatomy at the school library, and later I would watch YouTube videos of surgeries. I loved anatomy and that focus on patient care.”
Rosh and Roshan, who are fraternal twins, went on to attend Yale University together as undergraduates, lived together as roommates and enrolled in most of the same classes. They both attended Harvard Medical School as well before embarking on residency together at the Brigham. And when it came time to decide where to continue their careers, the Sethi brothers say there was no question about where they wanted to be.
“We always felt a natural inclination toward the Brigham because of the people we worked with and the environment here,” Roshan said.
And while so much of their lives have overlapped, the brothers are the first to acknowledge the differences in — or rather, complementary nature of — their personalities. They are each other’s biggest fan.
It was no surprise to his brother that Rosh — patient, precise and a gifted visual artist — went into surgery. Meanwhile, Roshan is the more animated, free-thinking twin, with a creative mind, photographic memory and talent for storytelling that has allowed him to flourish in two careers, his brother said.
Even for twins, who are often close-knit by nature, the pair share an exceptionally tight bond.
“I think it comes down to our parents, especially our mom, who always felt strongly that we should be together,” Rosh said. “She wanted us to stay together, learn from each other and remember that we’re always the best of friends.”
“We’ve been side by side since the womb,” Roshan added. “Family is really important in Indian culture, and there’s an expectation of staying close. Although that filtered down to us in the way that we were raised, I also just feel like it was meant to be.”