Life Can Be So Unfair

Do you know someone who was diagnosed with cancer? Chances are that you do. Or at the very least, you may know someone who knows someone who was diagnosed. If you answered yes to the previous question, were you in the same room with them when they first found out?

There have been various people in my life who have had to struggle with this evil disease, but never did I once stop and think about the emotions they must have felt when they were first diagnosed. As they actively fought their diagnosis, each of these courageous people seemed to always keep a positive demeanor about them whenever I interacted with them. However, behind this positive spirit lies the pain and despair that consumed them in the moment they first learned about their diagnosis; a pain that was palpable in the rooms of the two patients that my team ended up diagnosing with cancer last week.

Before last week, I had only witnessed one person being diagnosed with cancer. This event had occurred last year during my Pediatrics rotation, and the sorrow that filled the atmosphere in the room was very similar to the sorrow I had felt last week as I watched the family members process the tough news that cancer had unfairly waged a war against their loved one. It was as if time had stood still. Although I could feel their sorrow and despair as they took in the information, there’s no way for me to even begin to describe what it must feel like to hear that your child has cancer. The fact that nobody knows what causes it in otherwise healthy children makes the news that much harder to process.

The good news is that the types of cancer that these patients have are very treatable and are associated with high remission rates. With that being said, the journey towards recovery will not be an easy one. The main treatment has to be given in a hospital setting, so they’ll be in and out of the hospital for a while. This, in turn, will have a direct impact on their everyday lives. They’ll have to complete schoolwork in the hospital, be very cognizant of avoiding infections, and learn how to deal with the many side-effects that the medications come with. It’s so sad and unfair for a child to have to go through something like this. Attempting to live as normal of a life as possible while having to actively battle for it at the same time is such a monumental task. However, the positive attitudes of the patients, coupled with the amazing amount of love and support that has been pouring out from the families and my team, gives me tremendous hope that they will both be able to battle this disease and effectively conquer it, regardless of the hardships that will come along the way.

While on service last week, I got the opportunity to not only watch a lumbar puncture, but to also watch my attending perform two bone marrow biopsies and bone marrow aspirations. It was the first time I had ever seen someone access bone marrow. It looked as painful as I had imagined it would be, but thankfully the patients who underwent these procedures were anesthetized the whole time. In addition, I took the initiative to learn more about neutropenic fever and ended up giving a short and informal lecture about it to my team. I’m glad I decided to do that because: 1) I could never seem to get this concept to stick in my head and 2) we actually ended up getting a real-life example of a patient with neutropenic fever later on in the week.

In the midst of the busy whirlwind of activity and events last week, I just so happened to age yet another year. Although I pretty much worked throughout my birthday, I did get the chance to have a delicious dinner at the home of one of my scholarship donors. He and his wife had graciously invited both my girlfriend and I to their home in order to get to know us better and to celebrate my birthday with dinner and dessert. We ultimately had a wonderful evening with them and I got to learn a lot about the interesting lives they lived. I further celebrated my birthday this past weekend in Charlotte, where I played various games at a bar, had a pleasant dinner at a fancy restaurant, had a night out at the Epicenter, enjoyed brunch, appreciated the Levine Museum of the New South, played some FIFA, rode on the Funny Bus in Charlotte (it was funny how unfunny the bus was) and watched UMiami’s first football game of the season in horror as we proceeded to get obliterated by LSU. Jesus Christ. It was bad. Not the best way to start off a season…but hopefully this loss sets the team straight and motivates them to do better from here on out. But on another note, I got the chance to go to Carowinds for the first time! It had been a long time since I had rode a roller coaster, but it was just as thrilling as I had remembered it being. And shoutout to the fast lane pass for allowing us to fly past the long lines and getting us to the rides in less than five minutes! 😎😜

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With my birthday behind me and Labor Day weekend now coming to an end, I’m ready to refocus my attention on both my rotation and on finally finishing up my ERAS application once and for all. I’m also ready for all of the events, activities and responsibilities that will be facing me this fall as I continue to trek through my final year of school. I hope that your weekend was a fun one, and that it adequately energized you for this upcoming week!

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein

– Black Man, M.D.

The Little Things In Life

Ayyyeeeee ya boy is turning 25 this week!!

dance dancing GIF

The big 2-5. Lol, some of you reading this may chuckle at the fact that this is such a big deal to me. You’re probably reading this like:

“Boy, 25 ain’t nothing. You ain’t grown at all, you still a youngin!” 

Others of you may gasp after reading this and be like:

“Daaannng, you 25?? Bro, you old as hell!”

Yet, others of you reading this probably don’t really care at all and are like:

“Okkkaayyy? And? The sky is still blue, the grass is still green and Kanye’s still crazy. You got older, whoooop-tee-doo.”

Whatever the case, just know that as I sit here and type this, I’m seriously thinking about just how much life I’ve already lived and how much more (Lord willing) lies ahead of me. I don’t care what you all say, turing 25 is a big deal to me lol. I’m pretty much in my mid-20s. Mid-20s!! I can clearly remember entering my 20s and feeling like I was all grown. And you couldn’t tell me NOTHING when I finally turned 21. But man, I’m about to turn 25 and I’m in awe. This year is going to be life-changing for sure. Like, I’m going to be recieving my medical degree and starting residency at this age! I also get the feeling that within this next year, I’m going to be enjoying some of the greatest life experiences that I’ll ever have.

ready viola davis GIF by Team Coco

Man, I’m ready for 25 and am excited to celebrate my birthday this upcoming Labor Day weekend with my girl! Not only will I be going to Carowinds for the first time and enjoying some of the other things that Charlotte has to offer, but I’ll also be cheering on my ‘Canes when they play their first game of the season against LSU on Sunday! That’s right, COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK BABY!!!

college football GIF by Miami Hurricanes

I’m really hoping that we can capitalize off of our success from last season and really shake things up this year!

Okay, let me actually start talking about stuff that you care about. 😂

My first week on the Peds Heme/Onc service was a fantastic one! Although there was an abnormally low number of patients on the service this week, I was able to maximize my learning opportunities with the patients I was caring for by studying their charts, ferociously googling and reviewing chemotherapies like a madman, asking endless questions to the members of my team, and engaging in the attending’s educational discussions throughout the week. Because we had such a low number of patients for our abnormally huge team, I had ample time to get adequately acclimated to the service. The fact that the team was so chill and easy to work with made the week that much better. In addition, I had the opportunity to spend extra time with some of the patients on the service in order to form memorable relationships with them that I hope impacted their lives as much as they impacted mine. It was awesome to be able to sit and have a lengthy conversation with one of the teens on the service about regular teenager stuff. He helped me realize just how out-of-touch I was with current trends 😭. I also had a ton of fun getting crushed repeatedly in thumb-wrestling matches and staring contests by one of my younger patients throughout the week. She would make it a point to remind me to come back in the afternoon to play with her and she would ask people where I was if I hadn’t come to visit her yet during the day. She really liked to talk with me and beat me in her lil’ games 😂. I loved going to visit her in the afternoons; she was so precious!

I’m definitely looking forward to another week on this service and I’ll be more than ready to carry more patients in the event that things get busier. I’ve already learned a lot about managing patients with various blood disorders and types of cancer, and I’m sure that I’ll have the opportunity to learn much more as I spend more time on this service in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, I’ve already encountered patients with some really tough diagnoses and I anticipate that I’ll be encountering more soon enough. Cancer is such an evil disease man. If there’s anything that I’ve taken away so far though, it’s that these kids and their families have an incredible amount of strength and resilience. I’m absolutely honored to be able to serve as a health provider for them.

I spent the weekend at Chapel Hill in order to attend UNC’s First Look, a free program designed to give medical students the opportunity to check out some of the residency programs that the institution has to offer. There was a fun reception on Friday night, where I got the chance to meet students from various institutions as well as faculty at UNC. I also unexpectedly ran into some old friends and got the chance to catch up with them, which was an awesome surprise. The program continued on Saturday, where we listened to resident and faculty panels who answered the many questions that the audience posed and shared some of the experiences that they’ve had at UNC. We were then split into groups based on our specialty interest and had lunch with residents and faculty members who worked in the specialty we were interested in. After that, we listened to the keynote speaker, who happened to be the Chair of the Family Medicine Department at UNC and then I went on a tour of the facility with the Pediatrics residency program director and some other medical students interested in Pediatrics. After the tour, we came back to the main room and the program officially came to a close. That’s the quick synopsis you’re getting, because I’m getting tired of typing lol. Overall, I’m really glad I decided to attend because I felt like I got an even better idea of what resident life at UNC would be like and I learned some useful information about both the application cycle and residency in general. Plus, it’s always great to meet new people and to catch up with old friends! And I can’t forget about all the free “UNC swag” that I got just by being there 😎. (Shoutout to the new UNC coffee tumbler gifted to me! I was supposed to have bought one a week ago, but I kept putting it off. This is one of those rare times in my life that procrastination actually worked in my favor 😄)

Okay, I’m all done for today! I hope that you have a spectacular week! I definitely plan on having one! 😜

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

– Black Man, M.D.