Today I am going to write this post as honestly and as openly as I can for you readers. It is concentrated mainly on my reconnection with the spiritual side of me as a result of cancer. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and some of you might think that I simply have looked to the supernatural as a mere coping mechanism for my disease; while this may be true, I feel that it is far from the whole truth. Let me use this post as to reflect on my spiritual journey so far. I hope that you will read this with an open mind, whether you’re a Christian, an atheist, or someone who is lost in religion as I once was. I might be a naive little wanna be scientist, but I would like to think my thoughts are worth some weight.
I was raised in a traditional Asian family under the religion by the name of Taoism. Up until my rebellious years as a pre-teen, I happily followed the religious proceedings that my dad would do everyday. I never once questioned it because I didn’t know that I should. When i reached middle school years, things started to change for me. My middle school years were actually my hardest years, which contrasts the popular belief that it is high school years that are the hardest on kids. I didn’t get along with anyone because I was a downright brat and a bitch… but then there was also the bullying directed at me too. Those were seriously the most unhappiest years of my life. My self esteem was low and I didn’t tell my parents that basically everything in my life was just wrong. The kids were mean alright. But I also managed to – believe it or not – turn myself into this weird punked out weird looking goth kid in middle school (probably made things worse too). That was when I discarded God out of my life.
So for roughly about 6 years, I made no attempts to acknowledge Him. However, I somehow knew – whether I liked it or not – that He was always there with me. I could feel Him in the back of my mind, and sometimes I asked him to help me get through exams too. You could say I had a little faith. By high school, I established myself as a competent student in the math in sciences, and so I narrowly thought to myself, “well, since God doesn’t go well with my strengths, he must not exist!” I might as well have admitted to myself that “I basically did this to make myself an Asian Science stereotype like that Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory, minus the Asian thing for him!” I was so close minded. I actually laugh at myself now – if I only knew then.
Before this I would describe myself as a fairly narrow-minded person because I only had faith in science. Having faith in God meant believing in something that is intangible, and it was uncertainty that really scared me. But what I have learned is, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Hence, I want to argue that I have faced enough extremists of religion(s) in my life to want to set the record straight in what I believe religion truly is about.
In the western world, the most common and bothersome stereotype of religion is the overly zealous Christian that you want to shut up (no offense; I know not all of you are like that) because they tell you that you will burn in hell for not acknowledging Christ or whatever. In addition, you also get the Westboro Church morons that defame the face of religion, amongst others (Vatican scandals, if you will). However, what I believe is, is that religion is not truth, but a path that you take in life that will hopefully carry you on into the afterlife. Religion is not black and white and there is a reason why all religions tend to lead to the same concept of God, but with a different name. I don’t believe that there is a “right” religion – there is truth in all of them…but then there are some in which I think are just plain wacko. In plain, I think that it is the people who give religion a bad name, not the religion itself.
I’ve touched on what I think about the stereotypical annoying Christian, but then there are also the stereotypical (but not so) annoying atheists who just rub in your face all the scientific evidence that there is no God. These are the people who proclaim to be open-minded in all aspects of life, except God. I am completely fine with your view and I also respect that. However, I am optimistic enough to refuse to believe that we are here for nothing more than just to live and die. The thought is unbearable and irrational when you open your eyes to every miracle around us. Additionally, I have realized that everything I learned in my science degree so far has only reinstated what I believe in God now, and that is why I think it is so important to have faith as a would-be doctor.
Being only in the early years of my undergrad, I have met a lot of premedical students at my university. The university is a prominent science institute, so it is inevitable that you meet premed students everywhere you go. However, as far as how many actually get into medical school, not many do. I often hear stories of how students with perfect GPAs and exceptional publications don’t get into medical school. It didn’t click for me at the time, but for the past couple of months I have been thinking, what can I personally bring into medicine from my life that others can’t? I know that I didn’t get this disease for no reason.
Having met enough doctors as a result of cancer, I think that I know what kind of doctor that I want to be. I’ve met enough overly ambitious undergrad students who want to go into medicine for the wrong reasons, such as prestige for the Asian family (haha), financial stability, and simply because they have the academic means to do so. I sincerely hope that medical schools can see right through them because if we’re producing sketchy doctors out, then the practice of medicine certainly is failing. I will admit that there was a time when these reasons dominated my intentions on becoming a doctor, but I now understand why medicine is “practiced” and not “done”: it is the most human science of all, for it is with compassion and empathy that doctors must have in order to help the people whose lives are taken over by disease. Hence, there is plenty of room for hope and faith.
When I was diagnosed with my type of brain cancer, I will never forget the look in my oncologist’s eyes: pain, and a sense of helplessness for me, because there is no cure. It was his look that made my heart tear that day…there was no faith. It was on that day that I swore that I will beat this and that when I become a doctor, I will never ever look at a patient like that because doctors are healers, not robots walking around fixing people. As healers, we must have faith that the there is a chance the patient could fully recover, even under the direst of circumstances, because if we don’t believe, how do we expect the patient to? Medicine is probably the best field to intertwine science and faith, but I must say it has to be done with caution because the extremes could blur objectivity.
In conclusion, I am determined to prove that science and faith can coexist. We’re humans after all.
For me, I know that God saved me. I am thankful everyday because he has provided me with an awakening that most people don’t experience at all in their lives. He has also provided me with some profound insight as to why I’m here on Earth. I can’t explain the feeling that I feel protected everywhere I go, but I know I am.
All I know is the past only makes me who I am today, but it is something I can’t change. The future is yet to determined. What matters now is that I am alive so that I can become the person I want to be.
And how do you like THAT for an honest and vulnerable post?