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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Megan in Liberia

Published August 21, 2007 4:14 PM by Gail Guterl
I have never met Megan Petock. She contacted me one day and asked if ADVANCE would be interested in periodic articles on her experiences as a volunteer for a year on the Mercy Ships. The hospital ship Megan, 24, was serving on would be docked in Liberia. She said she was also writing a blog of her experiences.

Since that first contact, Megan has written articles in July and August on her experiences (ADVANCE for Nurses in the areas of PA/NJ/DE). Recently I received a sad e-mail from her. One of her fellow volunteers drowned on a beach in Liberia. He was only 21 and was newly graduated from college. While she didn't know him well, she is grieving his death.

As Megan said in her e-mail, Collin was her neighbor in the next cabin. On the day he died, Megan bumped into him in the hallway of the ship. He and a friend were dressed in swimsuits ready to go ashore to the local beach. Megan was on a mission to find a gourd shaker so she could create a church service for a patient who was unable to attend the service that day in the ship chapel. She asked them if they had a gourd and they didn't.

Then they went ashore and Collin never came back.

Megan said, "Time is never on our side. When we hold time up to the light of eternity it becomes transparent."

There is a heartrending poignancy in how young people handle death. Recently my 25-year-old son learned a friend had died in an auto accident on a Pennsylvania highway. The van he was a passenger in blew a tire and rolled over, throwing my son's friend to his death. The middle seatbelt, where he was sitting, had been broken for quite some time and Trevor was the only passenger not belted in.

My son is mourning him deeply. "He was the best kid, Mom," he told me. "He never had a bad thing to say about anyone. When you spoke to him, he listened to you so intently. He seemed so interested in what you were saying. Why did he have to die?"

Maybe it is true. Only the good die young.


I have been following your trip since it was first published in advance for nurses. I was born in the united states but grew up in monrovia, liberia. I am currently working as nurse on a joint replacement unit and is interested in joining your team.

Please e mail me and let me know how I can be of any help to this wondeful mission.


yewedi goodlin, orthopedics - rn, christiana health care April 2, 2008 2:53 AM
bear DE

Hi Megan,I found your article'Courage has a face"fascinating and your work amazing.I have a co-worker who will be on the Mercy ship next feb in Sierra LeoneI told her about your article in Advance as she had not yet recd her copy and how exciting it would be for her to continue caring for your patient  Benedict.I will continue to follow your experiences on Mercy Ship as I am so very excited for my co-worker who will probably have the opportunity to share her experiences with all of us Pediatric nurses

Juanita DeSouza, Pediatrics - RN, RWJUH September 10, 2007 4:19 PM
New Brunswick NJ

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