Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Many people have asked me why my goal is to work with children who have cancer. They ask how I can handle it, especially having a son of my own now. I've never been able to put it into words. I have a few answers of course -- I've lost loved ones to cancer and it has inspired me to help others, I like working with patients long-term, I find working with cancer patients to be more challenging and rewarding than other forms of nursing -- but the real reason is this ineffable quality I've never been able to define.

Watch this video, and I think you'll understand. (It is long, but it is well worth twenty minutes of your day -- much more worth it than time spent on Facebook or watching a show. Trust me on this one).

I want to work with children who have cancer because I want to help people who are struggling with this vicious disease. But the truth is that they help me far more than I can ever help them. So far I have only worked with cancer patients and their families in school and volunteer capacities, and already so many of them have changed my life. I have seen teenage boys like the one in the video who are so willing to seize life despite the discomfort and fear their cancer brings them. I have seen a six-year-old girl confined in a hospital room for months at a time who still manages to smile every single day and live her life with a zest and passion I've rarely seen elsewhere. I have spent time with children bearing the burden of loss and disease as their parents suffer with cancer, and the way they still have so much joy and love in their souls.

People have asked me how I can leave my beautiful son and go to work. Part of me still wonders how I will do it. I would love to stay home with him always, and I am grateful that nursing doesn't take me from him every day. Part of the reason I am going to work is financial of course -- we need insurance and money to live in this expensive place. But another part of that reason is that multiple times I have felt the Spirit prompt me to do this work. I didn't want to be a nurse at first -- I had lofty career goals and prestigious degrees in mind. I resisted the prompting I felt to change my life, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Changing my carefully constructed plans made me available to marry my wonderful husband, gave me the freedom to have a child sooner than I had originally thought I would, allowed me to move to this city where I have already met so many wonderful people. At first I thought changing those plans was only to facilitate those results, but about a year ago, 7 months pregnant and wondering if I should continue in my plans to work, I felt it again -- the Spirit calling me to care for these children, better their lives in any way I can, and allow them to better me.

The courage of the young man in this video and his wonderful, supportive loved ones has moved me so much today. Death is a strange thing -- it is the thing people fear most, it is one of the only universal experiences, and yet it can also inspire us in such a beautiful way. I know that I will be less likely to complain when one of the many tiny things that inevitably go wrong falls upon me today. I will remember Zach and the other children who have touched my life and inspired me to live better.

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