Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Peaks and Valleys

I've spent most of my adult like wondering why life wasn't "happy" all the time and it wasn't until I was sliding into 40 that I realized that "happy" isn't a long term emotion/feeling, nor is it meant to last. When I was a Eastern Philosophy/Asian Religions major in college 20+ years ago, I learned that neutrality is a feeling that gets you VERY far in life because it's all about balance, not too happy, not to sad, just neutral. Well unfortunately, I've tended to be a VERY emotional person and that hasn't always been a good thing in relationships or careers. Fortunately at 43, I'm feeling pretty good about my ability to detach myself from "things" as a Buddhist would do and no, I'm not about to start chanting, shave my head bald, and start rubbing the big bellies of jade buddha statues, LOL!! But I am seeing a TON of things differently and the timing couldn't be better...........

So last week, I learn the man who is my cousin, but whom I've shared a life with like a brother, likely has colon cancer, with a splash of liver cancer thrown in too. He's 44 years old. To tell you truth I don't know how I feel about it because his lifestyle is shit, so his diagnosis isn't a complete surprise to me, or anyone else in the family. He spent all of last week in the hospital after having tried to get admitted and tested for the past 2 years (he has no health insurance). Now I'm an open minded person, but when he showed up at the ER the first few times under the influence of who knows what, with his white wife in a small, southern emergency room, with no health insurance, he was NEVER gonna get good care. Call me pessimistic, but I'm just one of those people who knows from experience that racism permeates EVERY aspect of society especially medicine which is why we need more brown folks in medicine. So now, because he's poor, they didn't do a CEA which would have definitively given them the answer they need, he has to sit for 2 weeks until they do some additional testing. Translation, they're doing special stains to confirm what they already know. Of course, it's times like these that I'm reminded of why I will stay on the path to becoming a Physician which on a certain level is kinda selfish, since I should be thinking about him. And I am, it just would have been real nice if I could have called and spoken to his Physicians as an equal. I did get a chance to look at his scans and requested the slides of his biopsy samples be sent to me so that I can have a few of my mentors get a looksie but dammit, I want to read those damn slides!!!!! Anyway, my family is in deep prayer over this situation which unfortunately for me personally, is all to familiar..............................

Moving on, tomorrow I meet with to 2 people who are shaping up to be my new mentors now that I appear to be headed in the infectious disease direction and one of them is a true inspiration! She is a woman who had a baby by a Black man at 17, and by 28 had her PhD in Biochemistry and is now married to another Black man. Now the fact that her baby Daddy and husband are Black isn't something I would normally mention but this woman is from rural Maryland, so I'm guessing that biracial kid thing probably didn't go over too well at first in her home town. She's also now a tenure track professor to boot doing ID research at a local university. The other person I'm meeting is an NIH/NIAID researcher who's helping me with my presentation in a couple weeks on Antibody Dependent Enhancement in Dengue infection, so that's exciting too! He's also got a fellowship position open in his lab so this could truly be the beginning of something special! Of course, this in NO WAY changes my plan about med school and if anything reinforces, my MD/PhD plan. The NIH move could potentially be critical because NIH has a special program for minorities in MD/PhD programs which pays 80% med school tuition and 100% of grad school tuition with a stipend for ALL years. Now the stipend is pretty low, but I could easily supplement that with my own funding from any of the 3 organizations where I have memberships. So I don't know, I have a feeling something really special is about to happen in my life careerwise, and right about now, I could use ALL the positivity I can get my hands on!!!!


  1. I am sorry for your friend. And you are right...racism is everywhere. I wish it wasn't but I can only start the change with me.

  2. Thank you for the kind words. He's technically my first cousin, though we grew up as siblings.