I’ve spent my professional life in health care; initially beginning my career as a Medical Laboratory Scientist.
Then, there I was; called on to assist at the bedside, for a bone marrow biopsy. The frail, elderly lady looked, to my 22 year old eyes, to be 110.
This day would forever change my life.
The pathologist thrusted a blunt-ended needle into her sternum (bone) and I cringed, averting my eyes. The blood-curdling screams seemed to suck all the energy from the room; seemed to suck any compassion he had from his heart as he maneuvered & manipulated that needle inside her sternum to obtain that sample.
Finally, after what seemed hours, the screaming stopped, he handed the sample to me, where-upon I made the requisite microscope slides and brought them & the remaining sample back to the lab. As I handed the sample to the senior technologist, I relayed her the story.
She looked back at me with sad eyes, “But, Leslie, they don’t even treat leukemia in people that age.”
I was appalled and devastated! Here I was, technically still a student, just weeks from graduating after 5 long and grueling years. I instantly understood that in my then current position (or any position I hoped to grow to from there) I was helpless to effect change in her life or in the system that put she and I in these positions. I knew, in that instant that I needed to be outside of that system in order to effect change and to truly help people heal.
A short year later; after graduating and procuring what others thought of as a dream job, I quit that job at a famous Boston hospital and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.