I write because it's my way of seeking solitude in times of distress.
My heart reaches out for comfort, for solace... and it flows out of me through my words.
My way of venting, of coping when I am overwhelmed.
Sometimes I wonder if my fearless ambition and passion to chasing after my dreams, have left me isolated. Far away from home, from family. I've changed over the years, and my identity has been moulded from being abroad since 14 years of age, traveling through different countries seeking the best of both worlds. From my core Asian values to my Westernized idealism.
I've always felt I have the best of both worlds; like yin and yang. But this feeling sometimes evades me.
There are those moments, when I feel like my dream-chasing has left me further away from the people I love and care for... and it saddens me, because I am ridden with guilt. Guilt for not being the great daughter that I can be, had I not chosen to leave home, and be so far away from my parents.
Guilt for not performing what we value in the Asian society; filial piety.
I wrestle with these conflicts inside of me, and it tears me up. Because a big part of me made this decision a long time ago, to leave home, to pursue the dreams that I have for myself professionally. To accomplish. To be someone who makes a difference in society. My burning drive and passion to be the very best that I can be, is the very reason I left so far away from all who I truly love. Yet, I am torn because I cannot ignore who I am and who I want to be. I am so strong-willed, and so determined, and if not for these core characteristics, I would not be where I am today.
I just turned 26, and I am about to be an oncologist who's trained at a top notch cancer center right at the heart of Washington DC- at the Lombardi Cancer Center. I will graduate from my 3 year oncology fellowship training at the age of 27. The youngest in the entire USA, and possibly the world.
What more could I have dreamed of? I am caring for the sickest of the sick and for a diverse multitude of complex patients with cancer. I am making a difference, and hoping to do more. Most importantly, I love what I do, each and every day.
I wish it would be easier. That I wouldn't be living in a country that takes over 30 hours of flying to be home with my family. That the distance between us would be so much shorter, that we could be closer. I yearn to be home with them more frequently than once a year, to do more for my parents. Here I am, still wanting to accomplish and do more, learn more. I know from what I see at work, how important it is to be balanced, and time and time again, my mentors remind me of that. Quality of life. That's a term we use with our cancer patients, but we so often forget to take care of ourselves, when we are so caught up with taking care of the sick and over-working.
It's a common phenomenon in medicine.
I yearn to be better - at keeping in touch with my family who is so far away, to cherish loved ones and show it, to work at maintaining my relationships with close ones. Never take the people you love, for granted.
I am reminded today, of how, without family as your support system, you are alone. My 80 year old patient with cancer has a few children, who live within the vicinity of only half an hour by driving- yet, not one child of hers, has volunteered to care for her as she is ready to be discharged from the hospital. Not a single one. How can they not come together, and divide the care-giving? It pained me to see that.
"Other things may change- but we start and end with family"