Dad's cancer struggles inspires Houston man to become doctor

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by Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News & KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on March 15, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 15 at 9:08 PM

HOUSTON – Across the country today, more than 30,000 medical students found out where they will serve their residency in an annual ritual known as Match Day.

In the Texas Medical Center, 240 future doctors posed for photos, laughed and celebrated with their families.

But Nate Avila’s family was brought to tears by his journey.

"I’m not like crying because I’m sad. You know, it’s just... I just so wish they could have seen it because their lives were like a million times harder than mine," Avila said.

He was talking about his dad, who died of cancer in 2006. A brother, John, died of cancer in 2010.

So Nate, one of 10 children in a family that was sometimes homeless, got a tennis scholarship to college so he could be a doctor and help people like the ones he lost.

"And that was part of it. I saw these people really are angels they really are helping us," Avila said. "I wanted to do that. I saw that and I wanted that."

When Avila, 28, received his Match Day envelope, he told his 7-month-old son, "Look JJ, this is for you buddy!"

While other students celebrated internship assignments all across the country, Avila smiled and raised a fist in the air.

"UT!" he yelled. "Staying home. Staying here where I belong."

And so the boy, who dreamed of being a doctor in Houston, is staying here.

The next tears came from his mom.

"I know John would be so proud of you," she said. "I know he would be so proud of you, so proud of you."

"This is what’s right for me. This is what’s right for me. Yeah," said Dr. Avila.

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