Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the next step.

What do barbeque, Elvis, the Mississippi river, and Danelle all have in common?
They all make their home in Memphis, Tennessee!! Well, almost. Yep, that's right, come September 1st I'm moving to Memphis! Why the 1,000 mile/17 hour move from Philadelphia for a girl that has become accustom to East coast living and abhors country music? Well, this might help explain it...

I was accepted for the nurse practitioner fellowship in pediatric oncology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and will be spending September-December there soaking up all the knowledge I can. It is a really exciting opportunity. I can't wait!

I guess I should buy a belt buckle or something so I fit in...


Friday, April 8, 2011

I just might make it...

Do you see those small branches? They've had a rough winter. They've been haggard by the wind and weighed down by the snow, yet somehow they survived. I feel a lot like those little branches these days--beaten and worn. But budding inside of me is the smallest flicker of hope. I think I might live to tell about Spring Semester 2011. It has been by far the most intense, exhausting, overwhelming, and frustrating time of my life. Yeah, I'm sure one day I'll look back at Penn and thank them for kicking me down so that I could figure out how to rise up, but for now I'm glad I'm still breathing. And glad that my manuscript is almost complete. Glad that in a few weeks time I don't have to get up to an annoying 5:15am alarm clock. Glad that in August I'll have a degree.

Thank goodness for Spring!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

An unwarranted, non-preventable tragedy...

It's called pediatric cancer.

Yeah, that's what I do. I take care of sick kids with cancer. I've done it for awhile now-6 years to be exact. Sometimes it seems that bald heads and feeding tubes are the norm. Chemotherapy, radiation, and blood counts are all very routine words in my day-to-day. But it is an awful concept to wrap your head around...Kids-with cancer. But somehow in a world that should be dripping with depression and heartache we manage to make it okay. We laugh, we smile, and we survive.
However yesterday was different, very different.

Reality became clear as I witnessed a painful and harsh introduction of pediatric cancer to an unexpecting, undeserving family. This is NOT normal. This is NOT okay. This IS a tragedy.

However, the physician delivering this tragic news did it beautifully, with compassion, and an honesty that you could trust. The parents sat there stoically as the arsenal of information was delivered-diagnosis, prognosis, treatment. Their faces were brave, but I could tell they were trembling inside. I'm sure all they could hear was lkdsfjlasdkj CANCER alkdflaskdjfks BRAIN TUMOR ioojhtdfslkdj UNFAVORABLE tyrdcdlasjdk CANCER adlkfalskd 25% CHANCE of SURVIVAL adaksdflks BRAIN TUMOR arebuyldflskj 25% lonmgt;skdjflksdjeklwd CANCER.

Now the words chemotherapy, radiation, and blood counts felt different; they seemed to stab their way though the conversation, rather than casually roll off the tongue as they usually do. I felt miles away from normalcy. I wanted to make it better. I wanted to make the situation not seem so hopeless. I wish I could have told them death was NOT imminent, but I couldn't. There is a ZERO percent chance that this tumor will go away. With chemo and radiation it can shrink in size and thus hopefully provide the family with more time together, but even that is not guaranteed.

I've never seen fear like the fear I saw in this dad's eyes. It was anguished and piercing. I almost lost it as we all sat huddled in the tiny conference room discussing the details of an invading brain tumor. As I scanned the room, unable to maintain the gaze of this heart-broken dad, I saw a simple, generic poster that caught my eye. I don't even recall what the poster was about, but it contained The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's trademark line "Hope lives here." As over-used as this simple statement is (it appears on EVERY poster or document from the hospital), it really hit home to me that day. "Hope does live here," I thought to myself, "and it starts with me." Sure, this is the WORST possible situation. I can't think of a scenario more horrible to be confronted with as a parent than this, but there is power in HOPE. That is the reason I moved across the country to go to grad school in pediatric oncology, because on days like today I wanted to be the one to provide hope-realistic hope. I'm not talking about empty promises and delusions of reality. I'm talking about gutsy, diligent, unwaivering hope. We have tools to fight this invading astrocytoma and it's my responsibility to arm these parents with them. Discouragement and despair aren't part of the protocol.

As I walked with the family back to their room I paused for a minute and told them, "You can do this and we are going to help you."

No, we wont' cure this malignant disease, we may not even give them 5 more years, but we will help them fight this battle with courage, strength, and hope.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If only...

I'm here.

Reading these.

Wishing I was here...

Laying in this...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas break was kind of great.

I got to hangout with these people...

Eat food like this...

Make exciting gingerbread huts complete with water slides...

Oh yeah, and then I died and had to use A LOT of this...

But it was okay. I still had a great time. Thanks Utah! Always a pleasure.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2010 Rewind.

How about an update? Who knew it has been nearly 8 months since I updated this little gem. I'm no blogging professional, in fact, I have no idea how people get those fancy backgrounds or cool fonts, but I sure do have a lot of random thoughts and just wish I had more time to throw them to you via cyberspace, but alas an occasional post and an entirely random update will have to suffice for now. Thank you grad school.

January: I learned how important it is to follow specific instructions.

February: It snowed and snowed and snowed! And school was cancelled! How glorious!

March: I got a new friend from Ethiopia and made a quick trip to Utah to attend to some bridesmaid duties in a dress I ordered from China that I had never tried on until the day of (luckily, those chinese seamstresses were right on with their measurements...phew!)

(oh, and you should also note that I caught the bouquet).

April: My best friend's wedding.

and I studied for some finals.

May: I took some finals, partied with some out-of-towners, turned garbage night trash into treasures, planted a garden, made an appearance on the food network, had a campfire or two, and spent an exciting weekend at Duck Beach in a swanky beach house.

June: I worked A LOT and spent a little more time camping.


I have a fear, a big one. I am terrified of mediocrity. Not in a crazy-perfectionist-I-have-to-be-the-best sort of way (because I've realized there is no use trying to be "the best" because there will always be someone "better"), but in a wow-I'm-grateful-for-all-the-opportunities-I-have-been-blessed-with-and-I-hope-I-don't-mess-them-up sort of way. And even after that largely over-hyphenated thought, I still don't think the feeling I was going for was generated entirely. Let me explain... You see it's about progress. It's about growth. It's about not going through the motions in life. It's about reaching and learning from the details. It's about having no regrets. It's about movement and effort. The more experiences I have, the more places I live, and the more undeserved blessings I receive all make me keenly aware of an innate responsibility to succeed.

And I guess what it all boils down to is...What am I doing with the time I've been given to learn and what patterns am I setting so that progress in imminent?

Friday, January 22, 2010

have a NORMAL day...

I love a fantastic day. You know, the kind where nothing can wrong? The kind where you wonder what you did right to have the stars align so perfectly to create such a great day. Yeah, I love those days. Its hard NOT to smile on days like that. I look forward to those kind of days, but I'm realizing life isn't defined by the great days. Its defined by the "normal" ones, the routine, and the mundane. Sure its easy to show up and be happy when things work out according to your expectations and when good fortune seems to flow your way. But that just isn't life. Now, don't think I'm saying life should be dull, mundane, and "normal" because if you know me at all you know I don't subscribe to the "dull" or "mundane" mentality. Life is too short to be boring. But I think there is a lot we can learn about ourselves as we glance introspectively and look at how we respond to a generic day. This isn't a post about choosing to be happy where ever you are (although I whole-heartedly agree with that philosophy). This is a post about realizing life isn't about the extremes, the great days or the horrible ones. It is a post about setting realistic expectations (while still dreaming big). It's about realizing that most often people are just people. Life is just life. School is just school and days are just days. I've realized lately an interesting fact about myself...I love living in extremes (which could describe why I am a slightly dramatic person and excellent story teller). But I'm starting to realize the wisdom in balance. The purpose of steadiness and the need for "normal."

So everyone, I hope you have a "normal" day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Survival Mode...

The last few weeks of my life have been nothing short of insane! I just got a new job at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and, unbeknownst to me, learned that I would be working full time during my orientation period of 4 weeks. Yeah, that's great; I'll make money. But it just so happens that these last two weeks have been finals week. That deadly combination made for an interesting experience and threw me into what I so dreadfully call "survival mode." No, I'm not talking about being stranded on a desert island with a match, compass, and canteen, kind of survival mode. I'm talking about making it to the end of the semester with out a) pulling all my hair out, b) quitting school, c) failing school, d) killing someone (accidentally or on purpose), and e) living to tell about it. These last two weeks were an interesting test of character. Its interesting what takes a priority and what doesn't when time is of the essence. My days were planned out to the very minute (wake up at 6:00. School until 3. Work until 11.) I hate that. I hate being so fixed in my time. No spontaneity. No fun.

Ever wondered what life in survival mode is like Philly style? We'll I'll tell you...

1. Laundry. Its been weeks since I pulled my clean laundry, folded out of a drawer. It goes from hamper, to pile on the floor, to washer/dryer, and back into the hamper (clean) where I pull it out each morning. Once the hamper is empty I gather up the clothes off the floor and wash them (usually at midnight because I realize I have no clean underwear for the next day) and the cycle repeats. Pathetic, I know. But for some reason the 10-15 minutes it would take to fold all that laundry and put it away just seems like too much of a sacrifice for a brain in the time crunch of survival mode. So if you're pulling your clothes off a hanger or out of a drawer your not doing too bad in life!

2. Food, yet another thing to take a hit since survival mode set in. Survival mode food=quick food (and most times that is not the most healthy). There is just something wrong about eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner out of your backpack. I've had many days where I've questioned the integrity of said food; I've learned that 8 hours in a room temperature backpack is not the best environment for yogurt or even string cheese (I now eat those at the beginning of the day). The last time I really went to the grocery store was the weekend after Thanksgiving (yes, really) and while there I bought myself some spinach. I love spinach, especially in salads, so I thought this would be perfect. Well 3 weeks later that spinach tub is still in my fridge UNOPENED, I haven't even taken the plastic off of it. Don't ask me why, but the idea of taking spinach leaves from one big tub and transferring them into a little, backpack-friendly tub with a side of dressing seemed all too complicated for this finals-focused brain. And obviously if I haven't gone shopping for 3 weeks I don't have that much food to stock my backpack with, this is where one of my favorite Philly things comes in...the Chinese carts. Maybe you've all seen them in other cities, but they are just these mini kitchens in a portable trailer. There are tons of them out on the sidewalk right outside the library. You can get a myriad of creations (a new one everyday) for$3-$5, and they are delicious! So lets just say the little Chinese cart man knows me by name now :)

3. Sleep. The longer you live in survival mode, the more you convince yourself you can live on less and less sleep. It starts out with a few late nights and an average sleep time of about 6 hours. Then as the tasks to complete increase and the time available to complete them decreases your brain begins to feel okay about 5 hours of sleep, and then 4 hours of sleep. Before you know it a week has gone by and you've averaged 28 hours of sleep--for the entire week. There is a frontal lobe headache associated with such a sleeping pattern, not to mention decreased cognition, and an inability to remember what the heck you did with your keys.

And that is only the beginning...

However, I'm happy to say that I am transitioning out of survival mode and am getting ready to fold my laundry right now!