'I celebrate the love, not the loss.'
As a second year General Surgery resident, I was living my dream - the dream of becoming an amazing surgeon who would save lives. And the greatest part was...I had an amazing sidekick - a loving sister who was my best friend and a 3rd year medical student herself. We both dreamed of becoming surgeons - growing our families together, living in the same city, becoming 'soccer moms', celebrating holidays, going on surgical missions and, exhibiting the same love that we shared with each other ever since the day she was born when I got to hold my newborn sister.
On July 17th, she went in for a routine surgery and she never made it off the table. It’s still so hard to believe that we lost her on that Operating Table during such a routine procedure. The images & sounds of a 52-minute futile intraop resuscitation effort will scar me forever, but I wanted to be there for her – I wanted them to keep going forever, but I knew you had passed on. Many of the things that we used to do together, I haven’t done since. I don’t sit in coffee shops giggling losing track of time anymore; I haven’t run up a bill at Lulu; I haven’t done a spin class at Soul; I haven't had a 'Netflix night.' The hurt is still too great to bare. They say time heals all wounds, but I really think they just mean that open wounds turn into scars.
On that day, a part of me died with her. But if there's anything good that can come out of this it's me tackling the passion that she always recognized in me - my ability to write great stories. As the days passed, the hurt remained, but the desire to do something in her honor reached a point where I needed to show strength - for her, for my parents...for me. So, I set out on this tremendous journey of finding amazing women who are pursuing careers in surgery. My sister loved reading stories about great women - 'ordinary women doing the extraordinary'.
So ever since the beginning of January, I've been telling the stories of amazing women in surgery - surgeons, surgical residents, anesthesiologists, physician assistants, nurses, surgical techs, dentists, periodontists, endodontists, perfusionists, and students. I take the same amount of time writing about everybody because these stories are all about human characteristics - strength, courage, determination, humility, perseverance, failure, tragedy and triumph - all characteristics that have no eyes for titles, positions, salaries and prestige. As of February 1st (just over a year after I started), I've written stories about over 219 amazing women in surgery and shared them with over 12,000 followers, built an entire platform (including this website), and signed a book deal titled 'Restricted Area'.
I do not believe in 'fluff' - my stories are substantive and are based on human qualities that make for great stories about extraordinary women. I believe there are many social media platforms that promote women in medicine that have no message behind them - my platform is all about messaging to inspire the next generation of women to believe in the idea that surgery is a career path for all to explore.
It has been an amazing journey where I've really explored a talent I always knew I had, but never had the courage to pursue. I'm not writing editorial journalism, but to me, these stories all have a sprinkle of the passion I saw in my sister each and every day - each story is special to me for a different reason. I Cry; I Laugh; I Read; I Write...I Carry the torch of OUR DREAM. I know she is watching over me and saving a place for me to join her one day. Until then, I am so blessed to talk to her through your stories.
I will make it back to medicine and my surgical residency when I am ready. My heart hurts today, but my desire to help others still burns strong. I will always have an angel looking over my shoulder looking after my 'every move'.