I was not surprised by my mother's soft, patient knock at 4 AM to tell me that my father had died. It was a moment I had been anticipating each day for five years after his Stage IV cancer diagnosis, and with even more certainty after he had fallen into a coma four days before. My father, once tall and strong, had finally succumbed to the disease he had so desperately tried to defeat.
I had years to wonder how I would feel at this moment. Discouraged? Emboldened? Relieved? Instead, I felt nothing. I searched hopelessly for meaning in the wake of his death.
Years later, I found myself assigned to a healthcare project at work. Initially, I was indifferent – healthcare seemed messy, dull, obstinate. Yet as I immersed myself in the healthcare ecosystem, memories emerged that I had locked away: my mother's countless, emotional phone calls with the insurance company; the inescapable cycle of hope and despair as we rotated through clinical trials; the hospital's inability to have an honest conversation with us about how my father wanted to live and to die.
I could have found pain. Instead, I finally found purpose.
Healthcare faces an uncertain future, and I don't yet know what role I will play. But I will be there, fighting for healthcare in the same way that my father fought for his life: with courage, tenacity, and unrelenting optimism.