Because it is Brain Tumor Awareness Month I’ve decided to go outside of my comfort zone and share a very personal aspect of my life for the first time publicly. The memory is crystal clear. There I was, 14 years old sitting in my freshman band class. It was the morning of September 11, 2000, the day before my mom's birthday. I was zoning out in class trying to figure out how I could make the most chocolaty cake I could to make her birthday special. The door opened. At once we all looked over to see who came into school late, but instead of more gossip for the day it was just the school’s guidance counselor. Then she called my name. Immediately I went pale. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I could barely breathe. I knew why she was there. My mom lost her battle with brain cancer. I ran out of the room in efforts to not pass out and break into tears in front of all of my classmates. Leaning up against the wall, my legs were weak and shaking uncontrollably forcing me to slide down onto the floor. The counselor sat down next to me and with her caring brown eyes, I could tell she was searching for the words to say. Finally, with a soft voice she simply said, “Your dad just got ‘the call’ from hospice, and he’s on his way here now”. I never cried. I knew what that mean but I just didn't believe it. My dad came and picked me up. It was a gorgeous warm and sunny day. My brother and aunt met us in the parking lot and we all went in together. I saw my mom for the last time, but again, didn’t cry. I had to be strong for my family. My mind was spinning out of control. I knew my mom was dead, yet still couldn’t believe it. I wondered what the future held and what this would mean for our family. Then my mind would skip back over all the years of doctor's appointments, surgeries and chemotherapy. I thought about my mom, who was the most kind, inspirational, generous and strong people I’ve known. This may not be the happy survival story you were looking for. However, without this experience I wouldn’t be the person I am today. In the days following, my dad, who has since passed away, taught me to be strong and to always make the best from what life gives you. Everyday this is what I strive for. I strive to capture the kindness and strength of my parents. I’ve used this passion and just finished my second year of medical school so that I can be they type of physician my mom would want. It is through them and this experience that I’ve learned to work hard, love others and enjoy every moment that life has to offer. Hope I’m making you proud mom and dad! Love you!