Giving up is not an option
COX… I wanted to love and care for someone just as the nurse did for my mom when she was ill

OCHO RIOS, St Ann — As her mother battled renal failure, which would eventually claim her life in 2013, a then 16-year-old Tiffany Cox took solace in the support and care provided by a nurse.

Though she cannot remember the medical care provider's name today, that was a defining moment in Cox's life as it shaped her career choice. Now 23, she's a nurse at St Ann's Bay Hospital, where she does her best to be there for those who need support.

“That time when my mommy was sick we had a very nice and supportive nurse taking care of her. She interacted with us well and took the best care of us and I looked up to her from then. I told myself since that time that I want to be that support to someone else and give that kind of love and encouragement,” Cox told the Jamaica Observer.

She has been doing just that.

“I love my job and I'm happy so far, I treat each patient with love because I remember that my mother needed that love. Some days can be challenging but it is all about balance and making it work,” she said.

Cox has been a member of the team at St Ann's Bay Hospital since graduating from The University of the West Indies, Mona in 2019. Getting her degree, she said, was one of the most satisfying moments in her life.

“I was very fulfilled, happy that all my hard work and struggling was finally over; thankful to God that he brought me through. The only thing I wished was that mommy was there. But I know she is proud and people keep telling me that she would feel pleased,” said Cox.

Her achievements have not come easy. She has been through a lot in the years since her mother's death. She had to face financial struggles even as she grappled with the emotional strain of coping with her loss. However, she was determined not to let anything distract her from her goals.

“People would see me smiling and didn't even know what I was going through. It has always been hard. I used student loan and tried to work for like a month, if I had time, to buy my uniform and other little stuff,” she told the Observer. “It was so good that I had my family's support, especially my sister who was there for me, my friends and prayers to take me through.”

For a long time, she found it hard to accept that her mother was gone.

“I was in denial about my mother's death; being a teenager going through that process I was so helpless. It took time before I could actually talk about my mommy; it is a very hard topic for me,” she said.

Cox was an 11th grader at the Marcus Garvey High School when everything changed.

“It was my last year of high school and I was about to do my CXCs so I had to be focusing on school and mourning at the same time. Honestly it was very hard. There were many nights when I cried myself to sleep and still have to end up going to school,” she said. “I, however, did my seven subjects and I got only ones and twos and I know it was God.”

She then went on to Moneague College where she got four Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects.

“Growing up mommy would always send me to school and so when she passed I held on to that and told myself that I just have to continue in the path that she would want to see me in. I had to push myself and be a coach for myself because I know that my mother would want me to do my best and be in school. I just really wanted to make my mother proud; and I came through,” Cox said with a smile.

She offered words of encouragement to anyone faced with challenges that seem insurmountable.

“Trust God always. There will be days when you will feel like giving up but you have to find the strength within yourself to persevere to accomplish your goals. Sometimes you'll have to be your only supporter and tell yourself, 'Giving up is not an option… you can do this.' With time you will heal,” she said.

— Akera Davis

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