Our next Heartbreaker in healthcare story (find #1 here) comes from Stephanie Cham, a gyn oncology fellow and aspiring sub-3:00 marathoner. When the season is on, you can find her crushing long runs on the Firehouse loop or mixing it up with Volt at the Reggie Lewis Center during Heartbreak's Speed Run powered by Nike Running sessions. Here's Stephanie on the current moment in her own words:
"The first time I probably actually cried during COVID-19 (and for those who know me I am rarely emotive) is when I saw videos of neighborhoods in New York City doing a nightly celebration to honor their local healthcare workers, this was my home for four years before I moved to Boston and where I trained for residency. The second time was when I heard a very respected surgeon I knew was intubated and that another attending had died.
Most of us went into healthcare because we enjoy the idea of our work being meaningful to others, and while it does bring great joy it unfortunately at times can feel thankless. By the time we are finished training, a lot of us are in a significant amount of debt in our early 30s or 40s and have put a pause on other parts of our lives (having kids, pursuing hobbies, etc). Typically we spend more time in the hospital than we do at home with our families. All of us have had to miss out on some significant life events due to work obligations (one year I missed my brother’s wedding). Countless times I’ve been at the hospital and heard someone skip their spouse's birthday or their kid's basketball game because of work at the hospital. So now to see healthcare workers who already sacrifice just a bit of themselves put their lives on the line is truly heart breaking.
What gives me hope in times like this is that people are now acknowledging some of the everyday people I work with and look up to. And when the dust of this all settles, most likely some people will forget and go back to following the lives of celebrities, liking the content of "influencers", and cheering on athletes. But hopefully every time spring rolls around, you’ll remember the times we considered someone in healthcare a hero."
Stephanie notes as a postscript: "Apologies, I can only draw from my own personal experiences, but I know there are several other groups of “essential workers” who are also heroes who deserve recognition as well."
Stephanie in the Cambridge Half presented by CambridgeSide.