For those of us who work at UF Health, the extraordinary can become ordinary. Each day, diagnoses are made, surgeries are completed, breakthroughs are discovered, lives are saved and sometimes lost — and our days go on.
A few years ago, the script was flipped on my family. Our 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, underwent a seven-hour surgery, endured months of radiation and chemotherapy, lost her hair and appetite, and was hospitalized numerous times for complications. I’m thrilled to report that in October, we celebrated the two-year anniversary of her remission. These days, if you saw her with a group of children on a playground, you’d never guess she’s a cancer survivor. She’s right back to being a high-energy kid.
Despite the trials and tribulations our family endured, it’s easy to become complacent. Some days, I rarely think about the struggles and sadness we experienced as I’m entrenched in the day-to-day chaos of life. I sometimes forget that every day, every hour, someone is receiving a frightful diagnosis or undergoing a high-risk medical procedure right down the road from where I sit here at work.
Recently, my wife befriended a family whose young child was diagnosed with a terminal illness — every parent’s worst nightmare. It’s inspiring to witness this family’s strength while they face an unthinkable situation. It also provides perspective.
When work gets frustrating, home life feels overwhelming or traffic on Archer Road is unbearable — I try to remember that others are facing obstacles much larger than mine. This may seem cliché, but speaking from experience you never know what bombshell tomorrow can bring, so try not to get caught up with the little things. We never thought our child would be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, but we also never imagined how quickly she would recover. Our family is fortunate.
As we approach the season of New Year’s resolutions and look for ways to better ourselves, I encourage you to choose to be grateful and reach out to others who are hurting, scared or less fortunate than you — talk to a lonely patient roaming the halls; give a confused visitor directions; donate spare change to benefit the Ronald McDonald House or another worthy cause.
I recently read that you should never be the first one to disengage from a hug with a loved one, as you never know how badly they might need it. Here’s to long hugs … and a happy New Year.
UF Health Communications