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When my mother was going into labor, she felt inclined to call my grandmother, who was long awaiting my birth. Frantic with excitement, my mother rapidly spoke into the phone, informing my grandmother of the news. My grandmother’s shaky voice was drowned out by various medical machines sighing with exhaustion—each beep an indicator of the last shred of hope. I wasn’t the only one with a long overnight stay at the hospital ahead of me.
Within hours, I was born. Within hours, my grandmother’s stage three cancer progressed. As I started my life, my grandmother was significantly closer to the end of hers.
Until I was nine, I was ignorant to the fact that my grandma was lacking a breast, though she had a silicone implant in its place. After catching a glimpse of the inconspicuous scar that hid behind the silicone pad, I asked intricate questions. Her eyelids fell heavily, her chest heaved out more than usual, and continuously she repeated “another time” until she finally agreed. I sat at the edge of the chair; my tiny hands tightly gripping the corners, my legs swaying back and forth, I eagerly awaited to hear her story. Hundreds of scenarios played through my mind. “She definitely did something cool,” I thought to myself. “She fought an evil monster!” I never pictured my grandma in any other way than as a superhero.
Although I did not fully understand my grandmother’s explanation, my nine year old mind comprehended two small things: cancer was bad, and cancer did not make my grandma feel good. I asked her how she managed to find strength to heal. She told me I was ultimately her source of strength, her last breath of hope she did not know she had until she learned she was going to have her first grandchild. I was the reason she declared in her heart that she would live longer. Consequently, her story immediately influenced my decision to be a doctor. “Grandma,” I said, “I will be a doctor and make sure nobody ever has cancer again.” Perhaps because of the seriousness of a nine year old girl, she laughed and embraced me. I furrowed my eyebrows. Standing solemnly still, I repeated, “I will.”
Eight years later I have not become indifferent to my decision. The human body and its conditions are an enigma, an enigma I want to know intimately. I burrowed my head into medical novels, books on human anatomy, and medical TV shows, all of which have only spurred my interest even further. Adrenaline rushes through me when the thought of medicine arises. Whenever I hear the screeching siren of an ambulance, I do not flinch but I smile. In my perspective, another life is being saved. I am filled with a sense of pride whenever I encounter a doctor, painted on their scrubs is a masterpiece of; vomit, stale blood, exasperation, but above all commitment. Eventually, I discovered another aspect of medicine—the art of separating to reconnect. Surgery.
Becoming a surgeon means walking on a path of continuous knowledge. Becoming a surgeon means amalgamating and applying everything I learned in biology (and in other sciences). Becoming a surgeon means putting people at ease, ameliorating their pain, even abating mental stress. I will become a surgeon to give a mother a chance to see her daughter graduate, to give a child the chance to achieve his or her dreams, and to give a grandmother the chance to see her granddaughter become a surgeon. Conscientiousness, precision, healing—surgery. It is not a statement of “I might,” or “I would like to,” but a proclamation of “I will.”
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