Ten Lessons for Enriching Life Learned by a Cancer Survivor. Lesson Three: Dream Large.

Editor’s note: A Tenth Anniversary Remembrance is a CancerForward series of blog posts attributed to the late Mariana Dieste Mead, MD, who fought pancreatic cancer for four years. In their original format, the posts are excerpts of “Ten Lessons for Enriching Life Learned by Confronting Death” written by Dr. Mead in collaboration with Clare Broun Johnson. The CancerForward series appears July 29 through August 9, 2012.

by Mariana Dieste Mead, MD (1955 – 2002)

You Brookwood graduates have already made a monumental decision and will be attending a very impressive set of secondary schools. Beyond this, have any of you set personal goals? I encourage you to pinpoint your life’s passion, and set your goals high.

My childhood was spent accompanying my father, a small-town general surgeon, on many of his daily trips to the hospital. Because of his influence, I became a nurse and will always believe that nurses are invaluable in life and completely essential.

In my early twenties, I worked as a registered nurse on the overnight shift in a county hospital’s emergency room, until a passing conversation with a busy, sleep-deprived resident changed my life. I asked him a question to which he barked: “You don’t need to know that, just do what I tell you…” The next morning, I enrolled in premed classes at the local university. I graduated second in my class from Baylor Medical School five years later.

I had found my life’s calling…but it took longer than necessary because I had put unnecessary limits on my dreams. I never thought of myself as “DOCTOR” until that resident doctor made me angry by brushing me off.

In April of 1998, I was given a terminal diagnosis of cancer. You can be certain from that I again dreamed larger than life and set my goals sky high. I explored and embraced all options before me, and today – three years later – I stand before you, very much alive and feeling strong, thanks to scientist Dr. Judah Folkman’s investigational drug that I was miraculously selected to test in a clinical trial.

Allow yourself to set your goals sky high. I am living proof that there is no such thing as an impossible dream.

Editor’s Note: Lesson Four: LEAVE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE will appear in the next installment of CancerForward’s blog, to be published August 2, 2012.

Category: Cancer

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