Veterinary school has a way of consuming almost all of your time, and it can sometimes be difficult to cope with extenuating circumstances as a student. As an out-of-stater at Michigan State, I am anxiously awaiting the beginning of the fall semester. But my father is currently battling cancer. In light of this hardship, I think it’s important to look on the bright side, because optimism helps me move forward.
To give you some background, my father was a paratrooper in the U.S. Marine Corps back in the late ’60s early ’70s. He was stationed at Camp Lejune, NC, a travesty that has received little attention by the media or public. Thousands of service men and their families were sickened by drinking contaminated water. My father is one of these men, and he is terminally ill with renal cancer.
When I think about the root of his illness, sure, I am angry. However, now I am a health professional and to maintain objectivity in my life, I need to dismiss my anger. I remain positive by reflecting on the fact that I was able to help manage my father’s care this past summer. I was able to interpret information from his oncologists and relay it to him time and again in a way that he could comprehend. There’s no way to cure cancer or to solve everyone’s problems, but sharing my knowledge, organizing my father’s medication, and helping him make important life decisions has given me great satisfaction.
To bring this full circle, I believe that my story relates to what we, as future vets, will be doing down the road. While we can’t always solve every problem, cure every disease, or even understand the etiology of every ailment, we can always make things better for our patients in some way. My father has taught me this lesson, and I believe it is too valuable not to share.
Now as the fall semester is about to begin, I am mindful about the limited time I have with my father. If you are in a similar situation with family or friends, or fortunate that your kin are in good health, make the time to incorporate them into your busy schedules. The time you spend is more valuable to you than you know.