Dr Tyra Waithe wished her mother had lived just a little longer to see her complete her internship at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and be honoured for her outstanding performance.
Twenty-four-year-old Dr Waithe said goodbye to her beloved mother in June this year. She died at home after a seven-year battle with colon cancer.
The death took place just two weeks before the doctor wrapped up the last rotation of her one-year internship.
But through the tears and grief, Dr Waithe worked her way to the end of that important aspect of her medical career, just as her mother asked her to.
“For me, it is surreal. This is something that I can’t say I expected, but I am very pleased about it. It is something that I wish I could share with my mom who recently passed this year.
“She was the one that was always behind me so I would get teary, but I am very proud to make her proud, even though she is not here right now. I have worked extremely hard throughout the last year. I was there for her, but still had to do my work. I am glad to be recognized as one of the interns that did their best and outshone the others,” a tearful Dr Waithe said, during an interview in QEH’s boardroom where four other successful interns were honoured today. The other interns began to cry too.
The doctor recalled that her mother was diagnosed with cancer when she was still a student of Queen’s College.
She said she always wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but made a firm decision after the diagnosis.
“That really made me realise that this is something I want to do. I want to make people’s experience going through this a little better. It was a little rough, but as I got into the medical field and started to understand things a little better, dealing with her became easier for me.
“But all throughout medical school, she was there for me. If I needed anything like food or clothes to come and work at the hospital, she was there for me. She tried to always be here for me,” she said. “Sometimes she was in the hospital on the ward, or she would be getting chemotherapy and I would have been here working and going to see her. But I had to cope; I had to find a way to do it. It is hard to watch somebody you love go through something so difficult, knowing that you can’t help them.
“I just knew in my mind that she wouldn’t want me to give up. She wouldn’t want me to stop what I was doing just to take care of her. She would have wanted to see me excel and do well. I really wish she were here to celebrate with me,” she added.
Dr Waithe expressed gratitude to the staff at the QEH who stood by her side before and after her mother’s death. She mentioned that co-ordinator of the internship programme Dr Clyde Cave went above and beyond to ensure she was comfortable.
The former Roland Edwards Primary student said she had a good relationship with her mother who was her best friend and confidante.
“She lived a good life. You know, before she died, she told me ‘you going to be good because you are [a] strong girl, do not give up’. I intend to honour her wish. I do not intend to give up.”
The doctor said she enjoyed her entire internship, but especially appreciated her stint in the internal medicine department.
“I hopefully want to get into a United States or Canadian programme to specialize in internal medicine or a subspecialty. Once I am finished that, once I get a position overseas for a couple of years, I would work there.
“But, I do want to come back to Barbados. I would not trade Barbados for anything. I want to come back and help out at QEH and in the community as much as I can,” she said.
Dr Waithe’s stepfather Ivor Jordan who was present to witness his stepdaughter’s special moment described her as a fighter. Her adopted mother Lorna Pooler explained that Dr Waithe had received a scholarship to study overseas, but made the decision to stay in Barbados to be with her ailing mother.
“When her mother died, it was a real fight having to come in to work. But I took over the majority of preparing for the funeral in order to give her a break. I am not surprised by her achievements.
“I remember Tyra as a little girl going to school. She never wanted to come anything but first in class. One time she came third, and she was not happy about it and declared that it would never happen again. She always worked hard to be on top,” Pooler said. (AH)