The Cows Call
Stephen Heptinstall ~
Jeremy Pivor ~
On my first day of medical school, my father, a dentist, told me he'd just been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Cancer had crept back into my life--except this time not into my body.
At age twelve, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. After an aggressive surgery, I was tumor-free for ten years. Then, at twenty-three, I received the news of an inoperable recurrence.
While going through radiation and chemotherapy, I struggled with how to move forward in the face of endless uncertainty--until I realized that, with or without cancer, everyone lives with uncertainty. Since I never knew what the next day would bring, I decided that the most important thing wasn't where I wanted to be in ten, fifteen or twenty years but how I wanted to live now, in the present. So I applied to medical school.
Given how long it takes to become a doctor, this decision may seem absurd. For me, however, living in the present meant fostering human connection, and I felt I could do that best as a physician.
Priscilla Mainardi ~
Your skin pale with worry,
your mouth a straight line,
the fear in your eyes--
all this told me,
more than the nausea,
more than the fact that I couldn’t move my head,
that something was really wrong.
You thought I wouldn’t see.
I looked up at the ceiling,
at its pattern of dots,
white, and brighter white,
that could mean anything, or nothing,
Jamie Sweigart ~
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon on my urban college campus. I'd been sitting on the grass outside a lecture hall where my premed classmates and I would study together on weekends. This particular weekend, I was alone. Campus was empty, except for a man with a backpack who occasionally passed by.
Finished with studying, I started walking down a deserted sidewalk back to my apartment, a few blocks away. On the way, I dialed my best friend from home, Laura, and we began chatting.
"Hang up the phone," said a man's voice behind me. I felt the cold blade of a knife against the side of my neck.