So…who is Marvalous Premed? Many of you have probably seen my on twitter as Marvalous Premed 007 , and have never known my name, so you may have wondered who I am. Well I am Maria Valdez. A young 19 year old aspiring neurosurgeon. I study Family Studies and Human Development with a minor in Health. I am a former neurosurgery intern and now an upcoming intern in Peds Neuro conducting diagnostic research in Autism. That’s the basics of me, but just like everyone I have a story behind my name. My story started when I was a mere 10 years old. When I was 10 my sister, who is my everything, was diagnosed with Autism. Autism…I still remember it like it was yesterday. My mom and I sitting in a psychologist’s office while he explained all this jibberish to us. Autism…What is that, I thought back in the day when I was only a decade old. My mom was only monolingual, she only knew Spanish, for we were all born in Mexico except my sister. I translated the whole time though I had no real idea what it all meant. After that my journey with medicine and my family began. At a mere 10 years of age I sort of got tangled in doctor appointments, meetings, trainings, more meetings and appts. I really did not know what it was to go out and “hang out,” and that was perfectly fine with me, all I wanted was to help my sister and my mom. Later at my 14 years of age my mom was diagnosed with cancer…I had already had a lot of tears, and breakdowns with my sister but hearing another diagnosis…and for my mom was devastating…You know what that meant, more appts, more doctors, more medicine. We took this battle as it came and just like all the other battles that we won with my sister we won this one with the help of family, God and docs. She became cancer free after 2 years of workup. It was a beautiful day in Feb when she was officially cancer free. But then I was 17.. it was April 14, my senior year in high school, it was a Saturday. I heard a noise and it was my sister, she was convulsing. I knew protocol. did it. told my mom to call 911 but she couldn’t she was too hysterical along with my dad. I grabbed the phone dialed 911 while I examined my sister. I remember it like it was yesterday, I went in the ambulance with her, when we got to the hospital my parents were there I checked my sister in made sure she was good and went to the bathroom. I was completely numb to what had happened, I just did what needed too quick and moved that is until I got the the bathroom. I cried like never bfe and couldn’t stop. I called my older brother, who did not live with us to tell him, and he calmed me down. I looked in the mirror cleaned my face and headed back to the ED. Nobody had no idea that had just happened except my brother. lol. Months later she was diagnosed with epilepsy….A fourth diagnosis in my life… because the other was that I myself had Charis I malformation but that was not bad my brain just decided to be born weird lol, why..I would ask myself. Why another one isn’t Autism enough? Apparently it wasn’t and neither was epilepsy. While walking to the hospital to volunteer last year in October I received a phone call, it was my sister’s RN in genetics. We had done a DNA microarray on my sister..and she was calling to give me the results. My sister had come up with about 100 genes duplicated close to her centromeres in her 11th chromosome. She was the 10th one in the WORLD to have it. She called me instead of my mom because she only knew English..So I broke the news to my mom. Ironically that same nurse that broke the news to me will be one of my mentor in Peds Neuro along with the neurologist who sees my sister. I remember walking and crying silently just being tired of it all. I broke the news to my mom and later that day I sat outside at night thinking about everything I had gone through since I was 10. Wow I thought, lol, I should be proud of myself haha I realized that because of all of this I have become who I am, I have become me. A 19 year aspiring neurosurgeron, who loves to go out for coffee not a party, read for fun not just in school, exercise and loves her family. Not only that but I had found a love, a love I would have never found anywhere else and that is my career. I came to love medicine despite all the diagnoses, and tears it gave me, because it also gave me hope, motivation, another chance.
At 12 years of age I knew I wanted to be a doctor. People thought it was just a childhood phase, like a lot go through, where they say they want to be a doctor until they figure out that means eating, breathing and living for your career. But after my neurosurgery internship everyone realized this “phase” was never going to go away. After all these diagnoses in my life, I learned that nothing felt better than receiving hope from a doctor. Walking out of those double doors with some hope, motivation or idea. As well as learning that there was nothing more frustrating than leaving those double doors with a “I am sorry that is who she is.” I know there always isn’t good news in medicine, but there can always be motivation, an idea, something to make that transition from a fatal diagnosis to death more helpful, because we all know we are going to die sometime, so it isn’t death that is devastating it is how you will die and doctors can make the HOW better or easier.
We all have a story that marks who we are, make it fun, make it hard, make it make you cry, laugh, break, grow because that story is who you are.