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Diaspora & Career : Déborah OM, Khmer from France, believer in "a healthy mind in a sane body ''

Born in Toulouse, the city where her parents settled in the 1980s after fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime, DÉBORAH OM is now a doctor of medical physics (in oncology) at the Parisian hospital GEORGES POMPIDOU. Discover today for Cambodge Mag the portrait of this young woman who affirms that a spirit must be ‘disciplined, hard but flexible not to break’.


For several years, we have found you particularly involved in various humanitarian causes, mainly in Cambodia. Tell us in particular about your mission with child amputees

Strongly inspired by a friend who was an amputee herself – but also by my father who had to cross anti-personnel minefields one day, my older sister on his shoulders – I took advantage during this stay at Srok in 2019 to contact the sector HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL of Siem Reap.

This mission in the field marked me enormously. I then obtained a fundraiser allowing me, using a 3D printer, to produce prostheses more suited to their condition.

DÉBORAH OM is now a doctor of medical physics (in oncology) at the Parisian hospital GEORGES POMPIDOU
DÉBORAH OM is now a doctor of medical physics (in oncology) at the Parisian hospital GEORGES POMPIDOU. Photo HOUT KOV

Last year, I had the privilege of accompanying you on one of your Physicist Without Borders days at the Khmero-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh. Describe this mission to us.

This hospital is the origin of my current vocation. The vision of distress and the obvious lack of available means that I discovered there during my first visit (I was 19 at the time) constituted a real emotional shock.

at the Khmero-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh
at the Khmero-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh

My goal in this mission was therefore the technical and practical improvement of the methods in place.

Your profile is however atypical. You are a great athlete. What disciplines do you practise?

I started with classical dance then karate, and then boxing, a passion. But following a rupture of the ligaments, I now devote myself to hiking and, of course, to Yoga.

You can actually be found on certain social networks for yoga. How did he come into your life?

Through one of my older sisters.

Déborah, fan of sports
Déborah, fan of sports

An assiduous practitioner, you have now become a teacher in the subject. How did this happen?

I became a real fan by practising daily in the studio that my sister had introduced me to. And working in radiotherapy, a fundamental anxiety-provoking environment (permanent nuclear exposure forces us to perform our duties in sorts of bunkers), it then occurred to me to share this well-being provided by yoga … and my request was approved by the hospital.

What advice or guidance would you give to those who would like to learn about this discipline?

‘Do it head on, go for it and be diligent! Discipline is the key to everything.’

You also happen to be a strong believer in meditation. What are the reasons?

‘The meditative approach is for me a life lesson but also a way of living your life’

A healthy mind in a healthy body: a few words on this adage?

I remain convinced that to free ourselves from all emotional constraints, we must above all free ourselves from our physical constraints. The two are closely linked.

Your curiosity also extends to reading. What are your current books or authors?

With a book permanently in my blouse, I am currently soaking up the writing of Bokar Rinpoche and Tenzin Wagyal – Rinpoche (Yoga of dreams and sleep) and Pema Wangyal (Boddhicitta) and Lucas Menget (freestyle swimming)

With her sisters
With her sisters

Are there currents of thought that you favour?

I particularly like Lucas Menget (freestyle), an exceptional work in my eyes and which focuses on TUMMO (Tibetan meditation on fire)

Also Vajrayāna Buddhism and Dzogchen Buddhism, stemming from the Tibetan schools.

Great traveller, you reconcile passions and destinations. Can you tell us about your next big trip?

I’m going to NEPAL, which is one of my dream destinations. This desire was particularly accentuated following the viewing of a report on ARTE on a boarding school – Snowland – located in the isolated region of DOLPO and only accessible on foot. Children aged 4 to 16 will no longer see their parents during their apprenticeship. The wish to be able to sponsor them has become dear to my heart.

You often talk to me about the SHAOLIN Monks. How do they inspire you and do you have any perspectives or projects on this subject?

They simply represent for me the quintessence of the discipline. They are the perfect archetype of ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’.

I would therefore leave on my return from Nepal this time to Germany, for a retreat in a SHAOLIN temple.

The work of the mind and discipline therefore take a great place in your life. Do you see a correlation with medicine?

Completely! Without discipline, performance decreases and this directly impacts our patients. And Cancer doesn’t wait.

Everything therefore remains linked: our minds and theirs and the results that will flow from it.

In your daily life at the Georges Pompidou Hospital, do you include your philosophy of life in your approach with your patients?

the combination of benevolence – peace of body and mind – yoga class at the hospital is in my eyes a trifecta.

‘Peace brings peace’

Do you often meet patients who are open to a meditation approach or who are simply followers of this practice to compensate for their condition?

The approach often surprises, I admit.

Do you think this could be a point to work on systematically?

patients feel our states and the meditation approach is now one of my priority approaches

Finally, what are the projects that are most important to you, professionally speaking?

I am a fan of innovative techniques, which represent a large part of my research.

I focus – among other things – on optimising toxicity savings for breast cancer patients,

Sophrology, meditation or even a good control of breathing are means that I would like to propose. Systematically because I now consider them essential in the achievement of all my objectives.

I am also thinking of resuming the congresses in order to spread my points of view – and discover others.

By Chantha R (Francoise Framboise))


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