“Once you choose hope anything is possible.”
These are the words I feel summarize what I learned this past summer during my internship.
I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field after my experiences interning at the Mayo Clinic in high school. I am passionate about making a difference in the world and helping those who are sick or in suffering. When I tell people that I have an interest in the field of oncology, specifically in pediatrics I am instantly hit with confusion, and questions along the lines of “ Why would you ever want to do something so sad?”
For me the answer is simple. While I know it is hard for many people to comprehend, often times you can find great hope when put against insurmountable odds. Cancer is a disease that devastates not only ones body, but it affects every single aspect of your life. Last year I was on the executive board for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, a foundation that funds cutting-edge cancer research and aims to provide support to families struggling with their child’s diagnosis. The children and families I met in my year as a board member opened my eyes to how we often take life for granted and their positivity and hope inspired me to want to continue to help people in their situation.
This year I was blessed enough to be selected as a clinical research intern at the Mayo Clinic in my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. This was a very competitive internship, only about 50 applicants from across the nation were selected and I felt so honored to have been given this incredible opportunity.
The Mayo School of Health Sciences created the curriculum for this program which includes mentorship from a physician that you are paired with as well as completing a research project for said doctor and presenting it to a group of medical professionals, peers, and health education specialists at the end of the program.
At the beginning of the program I expressed an interest in learning more about the field of oncology and discovered I would be paired with a doctor in the Jacoby Breast Center. The doctor I was paired with, along with the other women working in the clinic were some of the most inspirational, strong, and positive women I had ever met. I am so blessed to have had them as role models and I cannot even express how grateful I am for their guidance and willingness to teach me.
I learned SO MUCH every day at work that it felt like I was going to need more space in my brain to absorb the scientific information that was being presented every day. I got to shadow examinations, pathology analyses, and I worked diligently on a research project pertaining to risk factors for breast cancer. I was fascinated with what I was learning, however, I also felt as if I learned a lot about myself through this whole experience and why I am so drawn to this career path.
Yes there are days when I want to give up. There are days when the tiniest thing that goes wrong can make it seem like your world is falling apart. College classes can feel impossible and as someone who has a knack for stretching themself a little too thin I am not going to act like I haven’t contemplated completely giving up a time or two.
If I choose to continue down this career path I will experience things that are incredibly sad, but I love the patients and the families I have met so far, they are some of the sweetest and most appreciative people I have ever interacted with. For all of the pain and fear that these patients face If I can be part of the reason that their day brightens up then everything is worth it.
When I think of the beautiful, strong, and courageous women I met during my time at Mayo and how they were filled with so much hope and light at a time of such great devastation and suffering I am reminded that when you choose hope anything is possible. I learned that when you choose to persevere and appreciate every day for what it is you cannot be defeated. Life is worth fighting for and it is important to live every moment like it is your last.
I have learned about love, and sacrifice. I watched each day as women would put on a smile or crack a joke in an appointment because even though they were dying on the inside they couldn’t bear to think that anyone else should suffer because of their situation. Women are truly the strongest creatures on earth and I am encouraged to empower my sisters in Delta Zeta to be the best that they can be because they are all so beautiful on the inside and have so much to offer the world.
-Alex Sample PC '16