An Emotional Rollercoaster

Medical Mission | 2/27/22

By Colin Clark

Nothing could have prepared me for my experience today. I worked in a triage center alongside Dr. Nazarian, a highly respected ENT specialist examining people in need from the surrounding villages of Guatemala. Today was all about determining if we could help each person who came to the hospital and seeing if they are a candidate for surgery. It was emotional to know this was the only chance many would have to be helped

Carefully I transcribed Dr. Nazarian’s assessment as he examined an older woman who had never seen a doctor. She suffered from a facial tumor so large it limited her every day life. Because it was such a complex case multiple doctors came in and out of the room to discuss the ultimate course of action. She clearly was in a need of help. 

I stayed with her throughout the day. At one point she laughed when Dr. Nazarian removed a mosquito from her ear and cried when she spoke about how the tumor limited her, but mostly she sat completely silent as she contemplated a potential life after surgery, a life free from pain the she had not experienced in years. 

I tried as best I could to support her. I gave her tissues, hugs and made attempts to convey a smile through my mask. I found it extremely difficult to keep myself composed because I felt attached to her and I wanted us to be able to help her.

Although today was emotionally hard, I am beyond grateful for this experience. After one day in Guatemala and working with the patients in need, it’s already affirmed why I came here. Everyone who has helped get me here has a hand in giving patients like this woman a chance at a new life, and I am incredibly thankful. To be a part of this noble cause through the Foundation has meant everything to me. 

Colin Clark is a 2021 Graduate of the Medical Scholars Program at the Osborne Head and Neck Foundation and current Senior at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.