My Mother

2002 Medical School Application Personal Statement

Her will and faith are strong, but often these days I catch glimpses that it is beating her, that the pain is wearing her down. Sometimes as I hold her frail body in my arms I am resigned to feelings of frustration, not knowing how to make it all better. I have wished in hopeless moments that she could be released from her discomfort, ending a long fight to live. When these moments arise I hear clearly the words she utters in dire times, “I’m not sure why this happened to me, but perhaps we can all learn from this!”

My mom loves life. I have always considered her a “super-mom.” The memories of my childhood are full of themed birthday parties, scouting, music, and homemade cinnamon rolls. She instilled in my two sisters and me a raw zest for life and people, and actively encouraged us to learn new things, as well as follow our dreams and ambitions. I didn’t know how to react when her health suddenly failed and she was no longer able to do all that she used to do. She’d often force herself out of bed feeling the need to function as a mother and wife, which in the end intensified her suffering. Severe joint pain and edema, coupled with muscular pain and atrophy, left her crippled. My parents’ desperate search for answers took them to numerous specialty hospitals and doctors, but none were able to shed light on her condition, which slowly worsened. There were no textbook answers to her illness and I was left to wonder if she would live. Watching her suffer I felt helpless, unable to do anything except be with her. When dad was gone I would make her food, help her to the bathroom, and alleviate the loneliness that she felt. At the onset of her illness I felt desperate to help. I remember staying awake all night thumbing through health books searching for answers. My desire to alleviate her condition, along with a fascination with science and the body, fostered my interest in medicine. In recent years I had the opportunity to volunteer in both the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Shriner’s Children Hospital. These experiences have reinforced my desire to attend medical school. Witnessing the renewal of life in the face of a woman whose cancer had regressed and in a young Mexican boy finally running for the first time, has shown me the true value of the medical profession. Interacting with these people has been fulfilling and has encouraged my hope for my mom’s recovery.

Watching my mom struggle with the physical and emotional aspects of her illness has enabled me to better understand disease and its effects on the individual. Through her I have learned that healing takes place on many different levels, not just within a physical arena. I believe that everyone, especially the afflicted, needs to have a sense of purpose for their lives, something my mother has often struggled to find. Chronic illness can cause one to feel helpless and worthless, making their condition more severe and their recovery more challenging. Teaching my mom how to use a computer opened up many new opportunities for her. She now loves exploring family history and sending quotes via e-mail. Breaking up the monotony of being ill has revitalized her, giving her hope and purpose. Seeing this change in her has taught me the importance of emotion and how it can affect our circumstances.

At age 19, I moved to the Czech Republic for two years to serve a mission for my church. My experience there afforded me a unique opportunity to learn about myself and human nature. The dreary effects of communism were still evident in the attitudes of many individuals who had lost faith and struggled to find meaning in life. Inspired by my mother’s example, I looked for opportunities to uplift others. Many times I had witnessed the difference her cheerful, loving demeanor made in the lives of people she encountered, and I desired to do the same. I discovered that helping others was not only rewarding but gave a sense of purpose to my mission and to my own life. I learned there that the power to love, make someone laugh, and empathize unlocks opportunities not only for physical, but emotional and spiritual healing.

Emerson once wrote, “Perhaps no one has the power to influence the course of one’s life more so than a mother.” In reflection, her influence has not only fueled my desire to become a doctor but has instilled in me a desire to be more like her. Though she feels trapped in a broken body, she has not resigned herself to misery and self-pity. Throughout her trials she has remained consistently positive. Only a few have seen her cry in the lonely moments of the night because the pain overcomes her, or because she longs to run with her grandchildren. Despite all, she has remained happy and is determined to uplift the lives of those with whom she comes in contact. Her therapist wrote in his patient logs, “In all the many years of seeing patients I had never seen someone so young and dysfunctional, yet she is an inspiration to anyone who has anything to do with her. She makes everyone around feel wonderful.” When I question, “Why?” I am reminded of all that I have learned from her and how it has changed me. She has been my greatest teacher — a teacher of compassion, faith, love and fearlessness.

She has inspired my journey, I hope to make her proud.

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