Monday, May 21, 2007

Volunteer Voyage: The Conclusion

I have always believed the maxim "everything happens for a reason". Sometimes those reasons are unfathomable or indiscernible, but I do wholeheartedly believe that there is some sort of greater plan to everything. And sometimes, in moments of hindsight and clarity, I feel that I can understand why events unfold the way they do.

Over the past few years, as I became more involved in volunteering with organizations that supported the pediatric cancer fight, I also realized that my career in education was no longer satisfying to me. I still loved helping people, and I still felt that education was a noble profession, but I no longer felt it was right for me. Federal and state mandates, entitled parents and students, and a growing discontent with the lack of creativity and freedom caused me to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my career. At the same time, I picked up my family of five and relocated from Rhode Island to Austin, TX in June, 2006. I was seeking a more authentic life on a variety of levels, and did some serious soul searching about who I was and what I wanted for my life and my future.

I have learned more than I should about childhood leukemia over the past three years, more than I should because, quite simply, children should not have to endure this disease. I have learned the difference between acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the potential longterm effects of chemotherapy on a young developing body, and the statistics on recovery and relapse rates. I have fallen in love with children that I have never met, sincerely grieved when they lost their battle, and triumphantly celebrated when they graduated from treatment. I have grown passionate about this cause in a way that I never imagined, in a way that transcends merely sending a charity check or doing an annual fundraiser.

Since moving to Texas, I have been fortunate to work closely with Jenny Scott and Heroes For Children, and my commitment to the cause has only deepened. After many discussions, and with the support of my husband, I have decided to dedicate my professional career to working with families fighting the good fight against cancer. I am excited to share that I will be attending the University of Texas School of Social Work in the fall, in the Master's of Social Work program, specializing in medical social work. It is scary and stressful to change careers at the ripe old age of 32, with 3 kids and a decade of time invested in another profession, but the way I figure it?

If these kids can have the courage to stare cancer down, the least I can do is stand next to them and hold their hand.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with the Heroes for Children blog as I navigate this new path of medical social work!

Volunteer Voyage Part III
Volunteer Voyage Part II
Volunteer Voyage Part I

3 comments:

Tracy said...

I can't wait to hear about your new journey. I am sure you will be great.

anniemcq said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Well said, friend. I wish you smooth sailing from here out - those kids and their families need you.

SheriT said...

Tracey, that it awesome. Good luck with social work. I'm sure you will love it and great at it. I just completed by BSW (graduated on Saturday). I did a year internship at our children's hospital in oncology. It was one of the best experiences in my life. I am entering the MSW program this fall too. Feel free to contact me. I'd love to share the experience with someone as passionate about medical SW. It seems child welfare is "the thing" here. You can email me sherit@csufresno.edu
Good luck to you!