This is a guest post by Indianapolis accelerated nursing student Janet Lutomski.
Although I am in my fifties, I am not yet done. I have been questioned by multiple sources, “Why do you keep going?” Because I care. Because I have history. Because I know that I have more left in life to do. My life will not be complete without sharing what I still have to give. From adolescent, urban children without a voice to ailing elders within my own family, caring has always been my inspiration.
When I was 22 and had just given birth to my first child, my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I was fortunate enough that my mother had fantastic student nurses who were high school friends of mine. They had a personal connection. They thought about me, my father, my brothers and the whole family unit, not just the patient. Conversely, when my father had a massive stroke six years after my mother passed away, his nurses were sterile. Everything was treated as though it was a job. The nurses came in and were very to the point. It was not a good experience. It was matter of fact. Everything was close-ended. They were forthcoming with information, but they did not present it in a caring way. I was still reeling from my mother, and there I was, having just given birth to my third child and parentless. It was from this experience that I felt determined to make things different for others.
When my brother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 1999, my sister-in-law and nephews were emotionally incapable of handling the situation. My brother asked me to be his healthcare representative and advocate instead of his wife. I agreed because I knew how his family was feeling and how overwhelming it was to deal with eminent death. I also knew that it wasn’t about me and my grief; It was about life – his end of life. We had to allow him to orchestrate it himself. I saw how important it was for him. I spent a lot of time with him. He talked to me, confided in me, and I listened. I was able to make promises to him that I fulfilled. His wife’s finances were taken care of. His son’s college was paid for. Because of my brother’s illness and death, I saw how important it was to treat the person, not just the illness. Just because a person is dying doesn’t mean they are already dead. Breath = life. If I could understand this concept with my brother, I could understand it with others. This is why I went back to IUPUI to complete my degree in social and behavioral science.
During my last semester at IUPUI, I was offered an internship at George Washington Community School in IPS. I worked with middle school children who had potential for college but did not have parental support. After I graduated, I was offered a job at Washington. One of the many social service programs I developed was for girls who did not have mothers. Most of the girls’ mothers were deceased, but some were incarcerated or not present in the home. I knew what these girls were facing because I had lived it. I loved working with them, but I felt that I could do more. I felt that God had a bigger plan for me.
It has been my life situations and experiences combined that moved me to pursue an education in nursing. I have spent the majority of my life caring for others, and it is my intent to continue. My inspiration for nursing was, and always will be, an innate sense of responsibility to care for others. I will do so without bias or prejudice and will treat others well, as though they were my family.