November is National Family Caregivers Month and Michael Estreicher of New Jersey took on the role of caregiver for his wife Jess when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Michael is also part of NOCC TEAM TEAL and was set to run in this November’s TCS New York City Marathon.
“Jess had surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York on August 19, 2019, and was in the hospital for a week. Her chemotherapy treatments started about a month later. My first concern was caring for Jess, especially managing her pain and tending to her daily struggles after the surgery. Unfortunately, in the interim, Jess developed a minor post-surgical infection that required home wound care. With some instruction from the doctors, I learned how to care for an open wound and took care of this myself. Although I was definitely out of my comfort zone, it meant a lot to me to know that Jess trusted me to help her with her care and that she knew I would do everything I could. While my parents and Jess’s mom were very helpful, I really took on all parental responsibilities for our two girls, Sophia (age 13) and Lyla (age 10) from getting them ready for school, helping with homework, after school activities, and preparing meals. Jess does so much for our family so I needed to do whatever I could to make that challenging period as easy for her and the girls as possible. My family means everything to me and it was important that I be home and be able to take care of them. I took about 5 weeks off from work to be home with the family and super grateful to my law firm, Akerman LLP, for all its support. Jess’s chemo lasted 16 weeks and for most of the treatments, I was there to drive her to Memorial Sloan Kettering and be with her. Jess’s chemo ended in January 2020 and she received a clean bill of health and remains cancer-free. Even better, her mother Mimi is also an ovarian cancer survivor and will be celebrating 18 years NED!!
A runner for over 8 years I started running again at the very end of Jess’s 16-week chemo schedule. At the beginning of her treatment, I felt that I couldn’t leave Jess and the girls. If I had free time, I was trying to be with them. But I also found myself in a running ‘rut’. A friend told me about the NOCC Team TEAL program, and I signed up to run in the TCS New York City Marathon in a way to raise awareness and funds for the NOCC to honor my wife and mother-in-law. The idea of running and supporting Jess, Mimi, and the NOCC really helped me get going. Even though I was disappointed when the NYC marathon decided to be a virtual event this year, I enjoyed training for a marathon and sharing the joy of Jess’s improved health with friends, family, and colleagues as I raised money for the NOCC. News of the cancellation wasn’t a big surprise, but I can’t wait to keep raising money for NOCC while training for the 2021 race. Jess has the BRCA 1 gene mutation and we have always been carefully monitoring her health. We want to support NOCC in all its efforts to help all women fight this terrible disease. I know Jess, Mimi, and my girls will be cheering me on!”