Lilia Chatonda – Ultrasound Technologist

ultrasound technologist
Name: Lilia Chatonda
Program: Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound Technician
I am a graduate of Healthcare Training Institute. I took the Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound Technician program. Today I would like to share my journey with you. I came to the United States many years ago. Coming from Tunisia to a new country was very difficult. I had to learn to speak a new language, make new friends. I worked very hard in order to pay bills and get used to a new way of life. I got married, and little by little my husband and I started to build a beautiful life together. We became very successful, established our own business, bought a beautiful house and had two gorgeous children. I was working as a personal trainer and I loved my job. My life seemed perfect.

However, I still wanted to fulfill some of my own personal goals and one of them was going to school for ultrasound. I searched for a school that offered everything I was looking for and that was when I found Healthcare Training Institute. I began taking classes in the morning and absolutely loved learning about ultrasound. The medical field was a whole new world and I went to school every day ready and expecting to learn something new.

I wouldn’t say that I struggled through school – although it was tough! I had two children and juggling work, our business, taking care of my kids and coming to school wasn’t exactly easy. But I knew it was all going to be worth it in the end. Little did I know that my life was about to change drastically.

After all my schooling I was ready to begin my externship! I went to two different hospitals where I loved everyone and everyone loved me. We got along great and I felt like I was born to do ultrasound.

I completed all my externship hours, and I was finally ready to search for employment when my life took an unexpected turn. I was working at the gym, teaching one of my classes when my daughter called me to tell me her dad was throwing up blood. Being in the medical field I knew this was not a very good sign.

I rushed to where my husband and kids were, only to find my husband passed out in his car.

I felt my body weaken – what could I say to my kids, how was I going to explain what was happening?

My son rode in the ambulance with my husband, begging him to hold on. My daughter and I followed in the car and after several hours of tests, blood work, ultrasounds, and doctors sharing their expert opinions they finally had a diagnosis. My husband had stomach cancer; they found a tumor the size of a tennis ball in his stomach.

In that moment I realized that not even my worst moment could have prepared me for what was happening.

The process was very difficult. I put my job search on hold because I had to take care of my family, my home and my husband. The times that followed were very tough. With my husband unable to work we lost our home, and managing the business alone became very stressful and difficult.

We lost many material things as a family, but we gained other more important things; love and appreciation for one another. We learned that not even in your darkest hour should you give up.

HTI played a very important part in my life. They provided the support I needed, or sometimes just someone to vent to. The knowledge I received while in school prepared me not just for a career, but helped me to handle my husband’s sickness. I understood what he was going through, not only because I was right next to him but because I could actually understand what the doctors were telling us. Going to school prepared me to deal with the monstrous effects of cancer in my own family.

Finally, after long hours, weeks and sometimes even holidays in the hospital I felt like I was ready to get back out there. My husband began recuperating little by little and I was offered a wonderful opportunity to do just what I wanted – start over. My family and I are moving to South Carolina for a career opportunity as a Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound Technologist. I don’t think I have ever been more excited. It feels great to have a fresh start! The pay is awesome, and this is exactly what my family and I need. We need a new atmosphere, new environment and a new beginning.

I became the sole provider for my family, the backbone for my home.
Even now with my husband being unable to work I get overwhelmed with fear and questions sometimes. So if you – right now – reading this are thinking: “How am I going to make it out of this one”? Remember you can do it! It might be hard, it might be difficult but you can do it!

Going to school was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. It was an investment not only for the wonderful job I have now, but for my own family’s health.

I still have fears. Any family member of a cancer survivor can tell you fear is real. But now I also have hopes and dreams! I have future goals, not only for me but for my family. I no longer dream of a beautiful house, the perfect business – I am now content with coming home and seeing my husband playing and joking with my children. I am grateful I have an education that prepared me to provide for my family. I am thankful that every day is a little new beginning.

I would like to finish my story by telling you that it is not the end. No matter how horrible things might feel, or seem, you will make it out alive and victorious. Just work hard, seek help – the support system at HTI is built to make you strong and to make you a success! So when you are six or seven months into the program and think you might have made the wrong decision because things are tough, please remember me. I was in your shoes too once, but if I had given up I would not have been able to come out victorious after my husband’s diagnosis; I would not have been able to provide for my kids. So please remember me, and do not give up.