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Occupational Empathy

 
On my first day shadowing an occupational therapist, I learned much more than I had anticipated.
 
We saw five patients that morning—with each one, the OT went through a series of exercises to test their strength and mobility. The first four visits were interesting, though uneventful, as the patients completed their exercises with varying degrees of success.
 
The last patient was a man with a history of alcoholism. He had a tube

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A Beacon of Hope

 
I never realized the importance of surrounding myself with people in need of hope until I experienced a difficult time in my life, a time when I needed to lean on others to find hope and solace.

During the fall semester of my sophomore year in college, I suffered the loss of my grandma to lung cancer. I became wracked with guilt, anxiety and depression following the death of this essential member of my

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Hope Heals

Hope has been the key to happiness in my life. Lows happen; troubled times are inevitable. But when I can hope that what hurts will be healed and difficulties will be overcome, I can be happy. Hope is something we can hold onto in difficult times and know, trite though it sounds, that the dawn follows even the darkest nights. I have also learned that hope sometimes arrives in different and unexpected packages.

During my

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The Playground

I stand squinting in the sun as the kids parade off the buses. Quickly, the campgrounds fill with smiling faces, colorful t-shirts and baseball caps. From afar, there seems to be no difference between this place and any other summer camp.

However, underneath many of the t-shirts are chemotherapy ports and surgical scars, below the hats are bald heads and behind the smiles are fears, memories and young lives impacted by cancer. Yet walking through

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Leaving a Little Sparkle Everywhere I Go

“You have glitter on your face,” my grandmother reminded me for the tenth time that afternoon. Though she was relatively early in the Alzheimer’s process, to us it seemed that she was losing something every single day, and today it appeared to be her short term memory.
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Seeing Patients for the First Time

 
I wish I could see his eyes, hidden beneath a pair of shades. A tweed cap, or as I like to think of it, the “grandpa cap,” covers his head. With his hands resting on a cane, he leans his back against the chair.
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Music Fills the Soul

Over the years I had come to dread this weekly chore and today, as always, it filled me with such sadness. Tuesdays, on my day off from work, I would drive to the nursing home to visit my mother. There were times when Mom would look at me with her crystal clear blue eyes and say, “Do you know when Beth is coming?” “I AM Beth,” I would exclaim, over and over again when

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Monkey Magic

 
Although I was an unpopular adolescent–never invited to parties, never asked on a date–I still had dreams. I wanted to become a teacher, a wife, a mother. Then a medical issue threatened my mother dream and, possibly, my wife one as well.

Shortly after I graduated from high school and a few days after I turned eighteen on August 8, 1965, I entered the hospital for surgery. A chronic pain on the left side of my abdomen had

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When You Don’t Know What to Hope For

 
My mother lies quietly in the hospital bed that has replaced her regular bed, now that she can no longer get up on her own. Every day she stares at the TV, appearing to watch it with interest. When I come into her room, she smiles and tries to say hello–in a voice that is barely a whisper. Her eyes sparkle a little. In my own discomfort, I begin asking simple questions, hoping to

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Optimism

“You will get better,” the physician told my brother. My brother was younger than I am now when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I don’t think even he believed the doctor, or he wouldn’t have asked me to take care of everything. 

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Giving Thanks

Victor Fornari

One autumn morning, a woman called the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center on Long Island, asking to speak with me.

In more than ten years as the department’s director, I’ve received countless phone calls, but this one instantly got my attention.

“She says that she was your patient in 1984,” said my assistant, Eileen. “Her name is Anne–“

“Jones,” I said

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Never Say Die

Christine Todd

In November of my intern year, I had trouble finding the sun. It was dark when I woke up for work, and it was dark when work was done and I headed back home. I’d picked up the service on the cancer ward from an intern named Bob, and Bob had left me six handwritten pages on the subject of Jim Franklin.

And this was the deal: Jim Franklin, thirty-seven years

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