Today a dear friend lost her dad. I never met the man, but I knew his daughter, and I knew her well. She is a woman who has helped shape the woman I have became. She is a woman who played a crucial role in my life as I became a baby Catholic. This man passed because of an intense battle with cancer. From what I’ve seen this man was a man of joy, of determination, of love, and many hearts were touched by this big-hearted, young spirited man. And knowing the daughter he raised, I am confidant he was quite the man of God!
I’m a nursing student, if you didn’t know. But what many people don’t know is that I want to do with my education when I eventually graduate. I’ve been all over the place as I’ve gone through school, but this summer I spent a lot of time thinking and praying about my future. When I was a senior in high school my grandpa died because cancer overtook his body too. For the longest time I would say that I could never be a cancer or hospice nurse because it was too much for me, too close to home.
However, this past spring I was placed at the James Cancer Hospital for my clinical rotation. I was there for 14ish weeks, throughout an entire semester. I thrived! For the first time in a clinical setting I was thriving. I was confidant in what I was doing (confidant as I could be as a little baby nursling). I was comfortable walking in patient’s rooms. I didn’t mind getting up at 5 am.I looked forward to my clinical day. I would say I lived for my clinical day. And I left the hospital feeling alive. I often left clinical seeing how, in all the little ways, one person can effect another person’s life. Once I realized all of this, after a summer of dwelling on it, I began to warm up to this idea of being an oncology (cancer) nurse.
There was another man who I never met. He lived in Minnesota, and effected the lives of many people who I hold dear to my heart. He was only a couple years older than I am today when he was diagnosed with cancer. He battled cancer for 4 years before he was called home to heaven. When he was near the end of his time on earth, NET Ministries did a video series of his life. His life’s story inspired me, and convicted me.
The combination of his story, my own story, my various friend’s stories I came to realize that maybe, just maybe oncology nursing is where I will find my home in the world of nursing. I’m still uneasy when I say that. I’m not 100% confidant, and it scares me a lot. Dreams that are a little scary are a good thing, right?
The man who passed today, the man from MN, my grandpa, the dad of a friend who passed a couple years ago — these situations, and the way these men lived, despite their diagnosis is what inspires me to continue to want to be a nurse. These stories remind me why I want to be a nurse. They suffer, their families suffer, and I know I will suffer with them. But that is the beauty of being a nurse. It is a gift to care for people in their most vulnerable states.
So here’s to Dan, Joe, Grandpa, and Mr. Diller — I will be a nurse because your stories, your joy in your dying days strengthen me to respond to my call with joy. I thank you for the radical way in which you lived your life and I’m grateful to know you’re in heaven and have my back, and the backs of many others.
“When you die, it does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live. Live! Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.” -Stuart Scott