Samantha's Road to Becoming a Registered Nurse
Editor's note: Thank you Samantha for being courageous and brave in sharing your story with us.
My mother gave birth to me at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto, Ontario on August 31st, 1995. I was born with a lot of what society would call, problems, but I’d like to think of them as awesome differences. I was born with a cleft palate, pectus carinatum, pectus escavatum, clubbed thumbs, ear deformities, overlapping toes and diagnosed with Pierre Robin Syndrome. Pectus carinatum is a rare chest wall deformity that causes my breastbone to push outward instead of being flat. Pectus escavatum is also a chest wall deformity, except it is my sternum that is caved in. Pierre Robin Syndrome is a condition that gave me a smaller than normal lower jaw and a tongue that would fall back in my throat, making breathing difficult. I remember my mom telling me stories about how I had to be positioned a certain way in my car seat to prevent choking on my tongue and on one occasion, was rushed to the hospital because I was turning blue.
SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario became my second home until the age of 18. I had at least 10 surgeries when I was a kid, including surgery for my cleft palate, ears and tube insertions. Plastic surgeons, ears, nose and throat specialists, orthodontists, dentists and speech pathologists were my best friends. The experiences weren’t the best, but I made it through. In elementary school, I was never popular, but I was a student who was kind to everyone. Being bullied was inevitable. However, despite the teasing and name calling, I was always forgiving and caring. I couldn’t find it in me to be mean or show hatred back. It wasn’t me. The constant hospital visits, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals radiated love and compassion which I will never forget.
I am who I am today, because of my past. Everyone needs someone to make them feel like tomorrow isn't just another day which is why I wanted to become a nurse. It’s who I am. The positive impact that the doctors, nurses and surgeons had on me makes me want to do the same for others. I want to show up for people during their tough times and be there for them. I want to be present and listen, to let them know they are not alone. This is because being alone, the feeling of not being good enough, the feeling of not being pretty enough or worth living, it’s absolutely terrifying. I know what it feels like and I do not want it to happen to anyone else. Years of childhood bullying and ridicule put a dent in my mental health… until I decided that I was enough and that there is nothing wrong with standing out and being different. It’s hard going through this alone and to anyone reading this who has been or is a victim of bullying, just know that you are not alone. You are loved and cared about in many ways. Any differences you may possess make you beautiful and unique. So own that and be yourself no matter what.
I decided to be a nurse because I care and put others before myself. It was how I was raised and practiced by the people that surround me. My goal is to make every newborn, child, teenager, adult and elderly person feel loved and supported. I pledge to be the Registered Nurse who will make someone’s day a bit brighter, their smile a bit bigger and their hopes a bit higher. I pledge to continue to be present for all those who need me; patients, residents, family members, friends… no matter the circumstance. We don’t have to move mountains. Simply be more compassionate and kind to others. We will change the world just by being warm, kind-hearted human beings.
Why is it important for you to share your story and experiences with mental health and illness?
I was in a very dark place growing up, with the constant bullying and such; yet, with constant love and support I pushed through it. I was told I was going to be a nobody. I was too ugly and worthless. However, I used my past growing up at a hospital with physical differences and decided my mental health matters. I became a nurse to give back. To be the love and support for other kids going through the same thing as I was. We all need someone. People deserve to hear my story because to those going through a similar situation, it does get better. You push through and you achieve your dreams because guess what, you can. No matter what people say.
Toronto, ON, Canada
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