So I got my dream job, and in my home city, and straight out of university. It turns out the graduate programme I got into is actually ranked number one in the country – I actually had no idea, I just went for this one as my first choice because it is in my home city and is one of only two places in the country that offer the specialty I’ve wanted to get into for the longest time. I’ve been there for a few months now, and I love it. Don’t get me wrong, it is HARD, some days more than others. But working with children with cancer feels like the life work I have been steered towards from a young age. And I am going to get there, step by step. Because it’s all about the little steps in paediatric oncology – it’s such a complicated specialty, and to get into it straight out of university without having had a placement there in person previously is almost unheard of. I only know of one other who did this.
First day being introduced: “Eep, she’s so little and cute!”. I was so confused, as I am no longer underweight and am not really THAT short (am I?). “How old are you?” “23.” Awww, cute! You’re just a baby!”. Well okay then.
I’ve sort of taken to seeing my first year here as a first year at Hogwarts. I feel like a cross between Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter – Neville because there’s so much I don’t know and I feel so clumsy trying to navigate this professional world with undeveloped skills, and Harry because I’m returning to a world I was once part of a long time ago but now hardly remember and am somewhat of a stranger to again. I feel really clumsy and blind with a lot of my knowledge and practice, but the other day a consultant I was working with said that he saw me as the most promising one and with the largest potential he’d seen in a longtime. Time will tell, but I am determined to keep going and prove wrong anyone who doubts me.
Lots of things are shocking in pediatric oncology, but sometimes it is what staff say to cope that catch me off guard the most. I hadn't heard that side of things in this world until now. I was talking about how cute a patient had been to me at the end of the day, getting me to come over so he could pet me cheeks and give me a goodbye kiss on my forehead. “Yeah… He’s probably going to die.” My fellow programme new entrant and I looked at each other with wide eyes. “The nice kids always die.” Oh. A senior nurse behind her looked at me and mimed ripping a central line out. “Yeah, that’s when we knew you were going to live” she said really quietly. I had to excuse myself and go have one of those weird over-emotionally laughing moments in the drug room while trying not to cry.
There's also a student here with us who says things like "I can't talk on the phone, everyone's listening and I'll sound funny" and "It's all so hard, all the things we are expected to do, how am I going to get through it all?". And while I talk it through with her ways to get through all the hard things and just keep going despite what others must be thinking, inside I'm just thinking "Yeah, just try me, you don't know half the stuff I've overcome to get here and all the things I can now do that people said I wouldn't be able to no matter how much I tried".
But I think the strongest thing I have heard said here is a parent saying “I’m not worried about having to stay here for at least another 12 months. We’re just happy they think she will still be here [alive] time next year.”
My boyfriend and I have been talking about when we are going to officially move in together next year. We have lived together before, but I have always had my own room to go back to, so it didn’t seem official. As with all post-natural-disaster cities, both renting and owning housing is expensive here. But every now and then we joke and dream about our ideal place to live. The bunnies could be free range inside but with room to roam outside on their harness long leads. And there could be a small room for my “functional study/work mess” that for now is located on my room floor so I am reminded of it and have to deal with it when I get up each day. And I would be able to set up my fish tank again. It turns out it is ideal in volume and shape for a dwarf puffer (solitary as they are) and some apple snails. Little dreams like this seem so domestic, but they do feel bliss and remind me that the future is bright and promising in lots of ways despite other things happening.