A window inside life at Augustana College

Very Lucky

I’m in one of those reflective moods and the only way I’m going to get anything done at work today is just to get it all out (Thank you, AugieBlog)

I woke up to a lovely email from my mother this morning in which she reminded me, “I hope you appreciate how very lucky you are to have the awesome experiences you have had in your life.” This was a much-needed reality check as I didn’t even want to get out of bed this morning because I was not looking forward to a long day of sitting at my computer in my office going through regulatory binders. However, the electronic kick in the pants from my mother was all I needed to realize that just waking up minutes from the Texas Medical Center is in itself an “awesome experience.”

I spent a few (okay maybe more than a few) minutes this morning browsing the MD Anderson website. It is amazing what kinds of things happen here on a daily basis and I am so blessed to be so close to it all. I read a story about a 6-year-old girl who just finished her proton therapy treatments in the pediatric cancer center for a brain tumor she has been fighting for almost a year (proton radiation therapy is a more powerful type of radiation used to treat more severe forms of cancer, often used as kind of a last resort). One of the doctors in the department of lymphoma and myeloma was recently awarded a TIME Magazine 100 most influential people award. Wow. The other day I saw a talk by a geneticist who told us about a new type of genetic testing that was just unveiled THE DAY BEFORE in Europe. Yesterday before a departmental orientation meeting, I was talking with some of the other interns about projects that they’re working on. These include using meditation and yoga techniques to reduce pain and improve outcomes for patients with different types of cancer (apparently extremely effective) and doing brain imaging to find out exactly what parts of the brain are being affected by these treatments. This stuff is just so cool–you couldn’t make this up if you tried!!!

I have also been thinking about how much my experience at the Texas Medical Center is different from the experience patients have when they come down here. For me, walking through the doors of MD Anderson everyday is part of one of the best experiences of my life. For the patients, that same action is part of the lowest point in their lives. When my friends and I eat McDonalds at Texas Childrens’ Hospital, it’s a good time with lots of laughter. For many of the other people there, it is just part of the experience of dealing with a sick child in the family. I have become very conscious of this phenomenon recently and always make it a point to be as friendly as possible to the patients that I come into contact with. Especially when I am in areas of the hospital with lots of patients, I try to smile at every single one I see. When you’re at the nation’s leading cancer hospital, it may be the only smile they get all day.

As much as I get a little bored in my office on a day-to-day basis, it is a great feeling knowing I am working with the nation’s leading experts in their fields. I adore my mentor and her research assistant and have learned so much from them and everyone else I encounter at MD Anderson and the other hospitals down here. Although I haven’t had much opportunity for clinical experience yet, just being in the hospital setting has confirmed for me that this is what I want to do with my life. I love being a part of a huge team that is working to make life better for the thousands of patients that come through our doors every day. I love learning about all the different types of research and treatments that are going on in the hospital and figuring out how my little piece of the puzzle fits into it all. Health care is such a diverse and ever-changing field and the more I learn about it, the more I love it. It’s all about the people and changing lives for the better.

Alright time to get my head out of the clouds and back to work. Hope everyone is having a great summer! I love getting comments on this thing, so if you’re reading, please let me know!!!

Love always,

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