Why cancer is important to me...
In late December 2009, a wonderfully kind, compassionate 80-year-old woman fainted one night while in the bathroom. Her daughter drove her to the local area hospital for what was believed to be a quick hospital stay. Upon arrival and thorough examination of the administered tests and their corresponding results, her doctors stumbled upon terrible findings. This woman had stage 4, inoperable cancer in her liver. This woman, who just three weeks ago was celebrating her 80th birthday in surprise fashion with her children and grandchildren. This woman, who exercised regularly, ate only healthy foods, never missed a doctor’s appointment, and never smoked or drank alcohol. This woman now had a matter of months to live. Having lived, laughed, and loved a lot in her 80 years, she decided to live out the rest of her days in peace without any chemotherapy, surgery, or other treatments. By February 2010, two full months of painful suffering later, her illness had overtaken her. She passed away surrounded by loved ones, and cancer had won.
I was fortunate enough to call the woman in this story my grandmother. It is clear then, that cancer has struck very close to home for me. My family experienced firsthand how rapidly and horrifically this disease can completely dismantle a person’s life. We were faced with the question of “why her?” My grandmother was incredibly healthy for her age; she seemed to do everything right, so what did she do to deserve such a painful end? Well, no one really knows for sure. Not enough is known about cancer as a disease to be able to honestly determine the root cause in many cases. This is one of the reasons why I have chosen to pursue a medical degree. I am incredibly motivated to become a part of the generation that finds the cure for cancer.
That is where this co-op experience with the CanCURE program comes into the picture. Not many 21-year-old college kids have the opportunity to work with some of the most experienced, well-known cancer researchers in some of the most well respected medical institutions in the world. To even say that I have the chance to meet and learn from these men and women is truly both an honor and a privilege. In order to cure cancer, we as a medical society need to become more aware of causes, treatments, and various mechanisms of cancer. The research going on at these hospitals is cutting edge and as a potential future cancer clinician, it is the best place for me to “learn the ropes.”
It is my goal in life to make a positive difference in the lives of others. My inspiration to become a medical professional lies in stories like the one told above. I know that I am not the only one with sad experiences like this, but I also know that my experiences act as motivation to achieve my goals. Without my grandmother, I would not be the person I am today, and without her devastating illness, I would not be pursuing a medical degree. I want to make a difference, and the CanCURE program will help me to gain the knowledge and experience needed to do so.