Note from BW of Brazil: These are the types of stories that inspired the creation of the Black Women of Brazil blog! Below we bring you story of Dr. Júlia Rocha, a woman whose talents, hobbies and skills keep her schedule full nearly everyday. Women like Rocha show that there are many stories of talented, professional black women that everyday Brazilians should be aware of. She is the type of woman whose image and story also shows us that there is no reason that women with her physical appearance should be so invisible when the topics of talk shows and news reports and novela characters are doctors or persons who excel in their particular field. People need to see these sort of images to break with the stereotypes associated with black women. Black women are not just Carnaval dancers, maids and cooks; they are also judges, architects, physicians, CEOs, fashion designers, intellectuals, professors and lawyers. Júlia Rocha is a talented samba singer, but she is also concerned doctor whose personal touch with her patients has inspired thousands of people who follow her daily routine.
Minas Gerais-based doctor is the talk of social networks
Between the rhythm of her office in Pará de Minas and the ginga (swagger) on Belo Horizonte stages, doctor shows writer’s vein and attracts followers with stories she’s experienced in service to the community
By Gustavo Werneck
Doctor Medical Júlia Maria Simão da Rocha, 32, has gotten used to living a double life. “My husband knows and encourages me a lot,” laughs the beautiful Belo Horizonte resident in Pará de Minas, in the Midwest region of the state, which in addition to being a professional specializing in family medicine and community, is a sambista (samba musician) and has gone deep into a singing career. A year ago, Júlia Rocha, as she is known, won over the public in another area, the internet, writing short stories in a social network of scenes she witnessed and experienced in the Unidade Básica de Saúde (UBS or Basic Health Unit) in the Bairro Providência neighborhood. “Now I have a triple life, it even surprised me with the amount of views. The first post (text) had 33,000 curtidas (likes),” says the doctor, singer and writer, with time only at lunch time to talk about her life and plans.
On Friday, Júlia said that the afternoon would be a little calmer. “I come to serve 30 people a day. I leave the office drained, but the music recuperates me completely. Medicine causes physical and mental strain; samba has lightness, it invigorates me,” says the doctor, always having wide open ears to, beside her husband Átila Souza, administrator and musician, listen to (samba/Brazilian Popular Music) greats Cartola, Noel Rosa, Pixinguinha, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque and Arlindo Cruz. “I like quality Música Popular Brasileira (MPB) and my favorite voice will always be Marisa Monte,” she says, while jokingly turning a stethoscope into microphone and showing her talent with the verses of her favorite artist:
“Dentro de cada pessoa/Tem um cantinho escondido/Decorado de saudade/Um lugar pro coração pousar/Um endereço que frequente sem morar…” – “Within each person/there’s a hidden corner/Decorated with longing /A place for the heart to land/An address that it frequents without living…”
To know Júlia a little better, you need to divide her history into three parts, without any dissonant note among them, because the moments have completed themselves. With a degree in medicine in Pouso Alegre, in southern Minas Gerais, she alternated the course with performances in bars. “In the first four years, I worked, and on Friday in the evening, I took the bus to Belo Horizonte in time to sing at night. On Sundays, I would return to Pouso Alegre and the week wore on normally,” she said.
Upon graduating five years ago, Júlia decided to do her residency at the Hospital Odilon Behrens, in the capital, and chose as her specialty family and community medicine, a great passion and that, when mentioned, makes her the green eyes light up through her glasses. “When I sing, I take off the glasses, you know?” She says, before quoting her father, a surgeon, as a major influence in the definition of this path. “Family medicine creates bonds, links, opens the door to the healthcare system. We follow patients all the time, get involved, get emotional, call, want to know about their state, in short, is present in their life. The family doctor, in fact, is a good communicator,” says Júlia, who came to study a year of journalism at PUC Minas.
In the Basic Health Unit, the doctor works from 7am to 4pm and sometimes, to relax, she softly raises her voice in some corner. But Friday is sacred. Finishing her services, she and Átila hit the road towards BH to perform at bars and parties. “I consider myself a professional singer, I want to build a career, record CDs, do shows all over Brazil,” she says, with her thoughts fixed on the beautiful samba beat. “You know, sometimes when I see a show of mine recorded on video, I keep thinking that’s not me?” says the doctor, arranging her hair again. “Some patients say that I have the face of an artist. I’ve already had straight hair, but then I left it crespo (kinky/curly). It was a liberation,” she confesses.
The third phase of her life has to do with the written word. An obstinate reader who goes a little time without reading everything she would like, Júlia says that, since childhood, she has had a love for writing. And the inspiration sprouted a year ago, when she tended to a 57-year old man with liver cancer (read the text on this page). “I seek to take a look at human history, far from the biomedical character. It’s kind of a chronicle of daily life. In this particular case, that greatly moved me, it was almost like venting,” says Júlia, who was surprised by the 10,000 people who shared the post -“people from (states) Piaui, Acre.” Today, she explains that she’s already lost count of the number of texts she’s published on the Internet. “At first, friends pushed me for a new post. Now they’re pushing me for a book. Who knows?” she says with a friendly smile.
Lunch is over and it’s time to go back to her rounds. “I never have time for leisure, my rest is even singing, composing and listening to the sound of the tambourine, cavaquinho and tan tan (hand drum) and seven-string guitar. I also have no bias with rhythms, because music has a social function. I listen to funk, pagode, although my chosen (style) in MPB,” she reiterates. Back at the office, Júlia the doctor receives sweetly at the door, a young patient without losing the rhythm and ginga that completely transforms her under the stage lights.
A scene described by Júlia Rocha in her debut on the Internet
Hence, a 57 year old patient enters the office, head down, and tells me that he’s gone five months wandering from doctor to doctor in their covenant without a solution for his problem:
“I keep thinking, at home, about the things I want to say to the doctor but when it comes time of consultation, there’s no time. The doctor asked to examine me without examining me and said that what I have is a kidney stone. He said I have to (have an) operation, gave me some medicine for the pain and asked for more tests.”
Me: “And why did you not say what you needed to say?”
“I’m embarrassed because this business of money is complicated. He needs to call more people, right. I can’t take up much of his time.”
“So today, I want you to tell me everything that you thought of at home. Can it be?”
“I am losing weight a lot and I’m feeling a lot of pain in the stomach (…)”, he complained still of urinary symptoms.
Examining…one sadness after another. Hard abdominal mass made stone and a huge liver … weight loss of 17 kilos in the last four months, without having put in any effort into it. For whoever is not a doctor, a patient consumed, probably, by cancer.
And the worst is yet to come:
After 25 minutes of consultation, TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES, orientations made, exams requested with top priority, I extend my hand and say, “We have a long way to go, but we’ll be together, right?!”
And he replied: “This was the longest consultation in my life. And if I pass by you in the street, you’ll recognize me, right. Because you looked in my face all the time. That’s cool … (teary-eyed – and me too). Doctor, no one ever looked at my belly. Thank you!”
And I thought, “(It’s) I that thanks you…” He left, I closed the door, I cried for three quick minutes (thinking of my life) and I called for the next one.
It’s living in FAMILY AND COMMUNITY MEDICINE that taught me that I could cry, just a little, raise my head and call the next one. There will always be others. And this time, the next was a beautiful, healthy child!
In time, this was an outburst … I do that sometimes in order not to get sick. It’s not a criticism of any colleague in particular, but you can see that much of the technology we need to help our patients is in us.
Júlia Rocha is a physician and has a samba group in Minas Gerais
By Gabriella Dias and Stephanie Candido
Júlia Rocha won over coach, (popular musician) Carlinhos Brown in the fourth and penultimate night of Audições às Cegas (Blind Auditions) of The Voice Brasil, with the song “O Homen que Falou.” (See her performance here)
The participant has been accustomed to singing in Minas Gerais bars, since she was about 14 years old. Very young, right? Despite her daughter’s talent, the girl’s mother wouldn’t let her sing just anywhere, no. “I could only be in barzinho (little bar) of known people. She took me and looked. After that, I sang in a band and weddings,” he explains. Even in the church, the participant already raised her voice in the youth group. With her mother, who plays guitar, Júlia “played around being a singer,” as she likes to say.
A doctor that sings?
The participant of the reality show is known as a family doctor in an office in Pará de Minas. To lighten up her work she has music as an ally. “Medicine is a great emotional burden. The music relaxes me to be a doctor. But singing is also tiring. So medicine relaxes me to be a singer. I’m never tired (laughs),” she says. The desire to study medicine was born when Júlia was a child. “I always wanted to be a doctor.”
Partnership with her husband
Júlia has other siblings who like to sing, but it’s her husband who maintains a musical project with her. “We have a samba group. My husband, Átila, plays tambourine with me and is a percussionist,” he reveals.