This post is dedicated to my dad, Keith Young, who passed away on July 20, 2020, after a fierce battle with cancer.
Several of my classmates have lost someone close to them, whether its been family, parents, friends, it’s something that as we get older we all experience. When you’re in vet school though, the added pressure that comes with a loss can be extremely hard to deal with. I remember it very clearly, it was my 31st birthday when my mom called to tell me they had found a mass in my dad’s esophagus. It was only a few days later when he lost his ability to use his legs, and I knew from my medical training that there was a lesion on his spine. Sure enough, a PET scan showed us that cancer had metastasized to his T4 vertebrae and it was pressing on his spinal cord, which was why he was unable to use his legs. My mom was his angel and she took care of him so well, although she says she was not cut out to be a nurse, she did her very best. In only a few months, my dad was gone. He would not be here on Earth to see my graduate from vet school and become a doctor.
Life continues on, and vet school does not stop for the loss of a parent. I was fortunate enough to be on a rotation that was 100% online due to COVID, so I was able to continue with school, as well as be there in his last days, surrounded by family and friends. I was able to help my mom plan his memorial service. It was a time that was extremely hard, but it was beautiful to be surrounded by so much love. I miss my dad terribly. He was quite the character with such a unique outlook on life. I know he liked reading these blogs, and I know he was proud of what I am doing with my life now. I want to take his ideas and philosophies and use them in my veterinary career. He believed you should always do your best work and you shouldn’t cut corners to get it done faster. He taught me about thick skin, reminding me that you can’t always please everyone. He taught me that life throws you curveballs, you just have to roll with it, and move on to the next day. I will always appreciate the lessons that he taught me, and I never knew how helpful they would be during vet school and beyond. Dealing with loss is hard, no matter when it happens, but during vet school, it can bring on an added anxiety. Just remember to take it one day at a time, and we will make it through.