By David Goldberg
Dr. Alvin Yang is a superhero to his patients.
And just like Canada’s favourite caped crusaders, his heroics wouldn’t exist without a fascinating origin story.
It all began with his first job in high school, working as an activity aid in the dementia ward of a retirement home.
“It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” recalls Yang. “It taught me the value of patient care and self-care. Being able to care for others and truly establishing a human connection was the most beautiful gift that 16-year-old me could have stumbled upon. Fortunately, this gift has carried forward through my years in school and now in my everyday practice.”
Now, Dr. Yang is the clinic director and owner of Alluminate Eyecare in Mississauga, Ont.
It’s inside those walls that he’s made his most memorable connections with patients.
Just one month after opening, a couple who recently immigrated from Central America walked through the doors in desperate need of care.
“The husband did not speak any English at all and his wife spoke little English at best,” Yang recalls. “I came to find out the husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had about a year to live.”
The man’s favourite activity was watching Netflix on his iPad but he could no longer see it clearly with his old glasses, so, it was Dr. Yang to the rescue.
“He told me that all the previous eye doctors he saw back home were more concerned about his prostate cancer spreading to his eyes and seemed to have neglected, in his words, this very important issue.”
Dr. Yang’s ultimate goal was to help this man enjoy the last stretch of his life with a new prescription.
“Tears started to roll down his cheeks. I looked at his wife and she burst into tears. He grabbed my hand and said, ‘¡Eres fabuloso! Muchas gracias!’ And with my very limited Spanish, I replied, ‘Si.’”
Always ambitious and looking to help others, Dr. Yang is a champion of community outreach.
“Over the past few years, my focus has been educating the public about the importance of eye care…especially in the non-English speaking population. We have done patient education talks in community centres. We’ve also organized in-home visits to retirement and group homes.”
For Yang, the true measure of success has always been his ability to help others and his advice for anyone looking to realize a dream is to define what success means to you.
“One person’s success could be another person’s nightmare,” he says, “The more clarity you have, the easier it will be to attain your vision.”