This is my very first public announcement analyzing why I want to become a doctor and expressing my concerns for my future. I think it would be nice to finally share to whoever interested what had been on my mind for the past 6 years which had been concealed to myself and a select few. In fact, pretty much my whole life.
The biggest questions many ask me is: why do you want to be a doctor? Why don’t you consider other possible career paths outside of medicine? Don’t you want to live life to its fullest and actually experience it rather than being strangled to a life of work?
Here is my answer to all these questions. First, since the death of my father in 2003, my vision of the world shifted upside down. His death served as the biggest motivation for myself to enter the field of medicine.
Initially, I had dreams to enter the field of athletics to possibly become a basketball coach. I had dreams of possibly taking over my father’s computer company to live up to his promise of serving the Vietnamese community. I had dreams to possibly become a businessman and become a wealthy man. However, the experience of losing not only your mentor, but also your best friend, had opened my eyes to view the world in a completely different way.
As some may had known, my father had passed on August 28th due to lung cancer. He was a secretive, chronic smoker since the age of 12 and had restrained himself from continuing smoking since the birth of my older brother. From what I had been informed, many Vietnamese men were accustomed to smoke at an early age as a cultural symbol for acceptance as to becoming a man. Unfortunately, the accumulated damage in his lungs over the course of several decades of smoking finally became present to strike him for the last time of his life.
I witnessed seeing a man who was amazingly fit transform into a person who needed physical assistance with daily routines. One day, my father suddenly stopped taking me to school. Some few days later, my father stopped making me lunch. The following week, my father would constantly be resting in his bed unable to attend work. Next thing I know, my father would be admitted to the hospital for treatment of a concept that I could not understand. The worse thing about this while growing up is knowing that every day, every hour, every minute, and every second, that person is slowly decaying in strength and there is nothing you could do about it.
I remember the moments where I would bring him food to his room while lying in his bed and see him take a small nibble of his food. He had gradually loss the capability to stay hydrated when possible. What horrendously aggravated me the most, looking back in the past, was that at a certain point right before my birthday, my mother had planned my brother and I to stay with my aunt in the beginning of August while my father was in his last few moments of his life. I remember foolishly and carelessly enjoying myself with my cousins far away from home while my father was suffering in his death bed. I remember when my birthday arrived, I had to celebrate it without him or my mother. What I find suspiciously amazing was that I was plumped with an arrival of amazing gifts such as a Gamecube, clothes, and other extravaganza I would never typically obtain. What my aunt and cousins did was trying to enlighten my mood and steer myself away from the “darkness” they perceived that may harm me. And then the moment came of his fate. While being away from home, I was at Disneyland on August 28th when the news of my father’s death were spread to my family members. And guess what I was doing? Going on rides without giving no fuck for the world. To this day, I fucking regret and hate the fact that I lost the opportunity to even say “I love you” to my father. I never had the chance to let him know and share every thought I wanted to with him.
Growing up without a father of who I can barely remember his voice is tremendously painful. I can’t even recognize his face without looking at his picture. I cannot even envision how he stands next to me or how he would even talk to me in this instant. What else is painful is seeing my mother not only become a single mother left with two children to take care in the world, but also suddenly take control over a company that only my father had envisioned. All the pressure were placed upon her shoulders to keep the fire alive. Over many years, she had faced mental, financial, and physical struggles to which I also almost lost her: to breast cancer. I was this close to being an orphan. (Mom, I thank you for everything for what you had done for my brother and I. I love you too.)
From my father’s death, I found that I never want to see anyone else suffer the way my father had, nor how my mother, brother, or myself. I want to be the person who can support others in times of need, unlike being away on my own occasion. I am a fighter for life as life is amazingly precious, valuable, and beautiful. I want to die trying to save someone’s life and do everything I can possibly can to make an individual healthy again. I never want to be deprived of an opportunity again to not make a difference in someone’s life as stupidly I did as a child.
Second, I have the mindset that life is all about giving. As taught by several teachings of God, nothing else satisfies me than knowing that I made a difference, whether significant or miniscule, in someone’s day. I strongly believe that my purpose in life is give back especially those in need. I feel grateful and blessed to embrace a life that many others in impoverished cities and unimaginable circumstances wish have what I have. These objects include simple things many take for granted such as having a roof over my head, a loving mother who supports me in everything I do, and a simple meal for lunch. With what I had been raised with as blessings, I hope to return these blessings to others who may not had the chance to obtain some in their life.
I choose to enter the medical field, because I am willing to entitle my life to the community. The community raised me and giving me everything I ever needed. Now it’s my turn to give back to them with whatever they need. When I grow up, I honestly don’t give a fuck about being rich and having a splendid life. I do not need to live an extravagant life of traveling and seeing the world. I do not need millions of dollars to make myself happy. I enjoy what I currently obtain. (To my surprise, I am amazed that some individuals are entering the medical field just for the money. If you really want to make money, enter a different field.) All I care is about you, my future patients (unless you are healthy, then stay healthy my brother or sister!). In my hopefully next 50+ years of my life, I want to die knowing that I can hopefully and positively impact another individual. I am not doing this because my family wanted me to. In fact, they all initially were against me entering the medical field. I chose this life, because it is my passion. I chose this life because it is my love. I chose this life because I believe this is my purpose in life.
Now, as amazingly proud to hear, my family finally supports me in my decision for my life choice. Hopefully you do too.
In reality, I am worried for my future. To some or a handful, I may be seen as “smart.” To my understanding, I know that I am not “smart” or “brilliant.” I don’t have the best grades as I wish I did. All I simply do is work as hard as I possibly can to get where I am. I fear that my incapability of being as intelligent may limit myself from being a successful and impactful doctor. I fear that medical school acceptances would not be as forgiving. I fear that I may be far away from my friends and family that relationships may be harmed. I fear that I may never reach my goal.
On the other hand, I have faith in myself that everything will be fine. I just need to stay in the present and focus on the small tasks that will lead me to the ultimate goal. Like what my mentor once said, “All you need to do is take it one step at a time. As you take each step, you are one step closer to the finish line.” That is exactly what I need to do. I hope that when I do become a doctor, I hope that I can say, “I finally made it.” Even better, when I do become a doctor, I will become the first doctor in my whole family. That will be the most glorying moment I can ever wish for. I just hope it will be as smooth sailing as possible.
Until then, Dr. David Ho is in the making.