The greatest gift someone can give another person is the gift of life.  My goal in life is to become a surgeon so that on a daily basis I could give people back a life that for a while they thought they were going to lose.  I consider myself extremely good at interacting with and understanding other people, which in my opinion is one of the most important traits a doctor can have.  For six years my mom had unbearable pain in her right leg.  Every doctor she went to said that the pain was caused from two herniated disks in her back, but my mom was certain this was not the case.  After almost a dozen doctors telling her the same thing, my mom finally went to one last doctor who actually listened to what she had to say.  Instead of immediately doing an MRI of her back, this doctor did and MRI of the area that hurt, her right leg.  After the test results came in, the doctor instantly found a small benign tumor pressed up against a nerve in her leg.  A few weeks later she had a minor surgery on her leg and has lived pain free ever since.  Now, if the first doctor had only listened to what my mom was saying, that the pain was in her upper leg, not her back, this problem would have ended years earlier.  After witnessing my mom in on and off screaming pain for six whole years, going to doctor after doctor, I knew that I needed to become a doctor so that I could prevent other people from going through the same unnecessary pain that my mom endured. 

     There are also many other ways to help other people without being a doctor.  For example, just doing a good deed for someone else everyday can make a major difference in his or her life.  A few years ago an elder neighbor of mine fell over in his bathroom and was too weak to get up.  His wife was unable to pull him up so she came to ask me for help.  After nearly an hour I managed to help him get up and into the car to go to the hospital.  Until that point I had never been that close with my neighbors, but after that we became extremely close and they were excellent role models for me.  Although I am unable to help others through medicine at this point in my life, everything I do in school and in my spare time is directed at becoming a well-rounded person who one day can become a doctor and save lives.

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Comment by Jonathan Thomson on February 3, 2011 at 9:51pm
Thank you for these stories, Brett! I like that you see how "saving a life" doesn't necessarily mean literally keeping them from dying. Saving a person can also mean restoring or giving them a better quality of life.

Are you prepared to accept that you will make mistakes when you are a doctor? It is typical that the source of pain is usually not where the pain actually is, but your mom's situation is still frustrating! I almost had to have my ring finger amputated when I had a compound fracture which developed into a staff infection, all because the doctor misdiagnosed it. People make mistakes, though--are you willing to take that burden home with you every night? Now my finger, in one sense wasn't THAT important when I was 13, but I certainly would not have become a cellist without it. What if your mom's tumor was malignant? What if you make a mistake when the consequences are life-altering or -ending?

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