The definition of a weekend will vary among medical students. For many of us, it’s the time that we use to catch up with sleep and relax with our family and friends — that is, if there are no exams looming over us on Monday. For some of us who cannot be with our dearest friends because they live states away, the weekends can be a bit lonely so I end up filling the time with studying. However, the bit of loneliness has driven me to look for things to do in Des Moines so I enjoy myself while I am here for school.
This past weekend, the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society had Light the Night, an evening charity walk where everyone tries to raise money and walks in honor or in memory of a loved one who has been afflicted with a blood cancer. My boyfriend and I have a friend who was diagnosed with leukemia recently and having this hit so close to home made us feel…helpless. We hardly have the chance to visit him because of our obligations to medical school and our financial limitations to fly to him. We felt the only way we can connect with him is to do this walk to show him our support. During the walk, I was very intrigued to read everyone’s personalized t-shirts. Many of the shirts read “In memory of my brother” or “In honor of my daughter.” Reading everyone’s dedication gave me an overwhelming sense of sadness because I was brought back to the feeling I had when I first found out that my friend had cancer. My eyes, my heart and my body ached so much it was surreal. At the end of the walk, I got to thinking that even though I could not physically be with my friend, I was able to spend my weekend walking with other people who share some of the fears I had about leukemia.
Although I do have an exam to study for this weekend, having gone to this put life in perspective. Perhaps my loneliness was a circular consequence of not making time for the weekend. Now I see the weekends as a time to appreciate my family and friends no matter how far apart we are. It’s interesting how something like a walk can bring into light the value of taking a break.