My caregiver journey began in December 2020 when my Mom was released from the hospital in Little Rock, AR. I was there to pick her up and stopped briefly by her house, packed up some items, and then onto my home in Memphis, TN.
While healing from an ongoing bout with pneumonia, Mom discovered a lump on her right chest area. Of course, my thoughts were to call the PCP and have her examined at the earliest. After mammography screening and biopsy, this was in contrast to another testing that revealed that the tissue from her lung area did not match. The oncologist called and said it was not breast cancer but ovarian cancer, as confirmed by a senior pathologist. Fast-forward, Mom, started receiving chemotherapy last June and continues battling this silent dreadful disease.
During this process, I made it my goal to advocate and be a quick study on meds that Mom would have to undergo. It has not been easy to watch Mom undergo chemo treatments and struggle at times. She has her good days and not-so-good days. She manages to push through and has a beautiful smile that will light up any room! Mom’s faith and fighting spirit help her with her daily journey. It’s an honor and blessing to be able to be a primary caregiver for my Mom. I truly would not have it any other way to be able to care for Mom.
Leaning on my faith, family, support of sorority sisters and friends, and connecting with organizations such as CancerCare and your organization, NOCC, has provided valuable information and resources and helped us through this process. Also, I have made it a top priority to keep my health and fitness in check. I realize I can’t care for Mom if I am not well.
When it comes to caregiving, I want others to know to be patient and do things to engage your loved one. I strive to keep things as normal as possible. Having my Mom here has allowed me to rediscover my love for flower gardening. Growing up, Mom always had a love of beautiful flowers and plants. Last year, I covered my deck with all the plants she loves. One of her favorites is the Coleus species. I did make sure to continue with having blooming flowers back this year too! I think as a caregiver, it’s very paramount to keep home away from home, home. It’s a big change to be uprooted from your environment and your independence. I intentionally ensured Mom knew she was not a guest but lives here with me. I told Mom from the jump that I would take care of her no matter what.
My advice is to take things slow. Be kind, be patient. Embrace the fact that 80 percent is ATTITUDE, and 20 percent is stuff such as chemo, etc. I suggest ensuring you understand the nutritional needs of your loved one as well. This is mission-critical getting through treatments and quality of life. Mom stays connected with her home church in Little Rock through digital media platforms and still logs into conference calls for daily bible study, and this keeps her going, and because of her faith, she truly believes that her outcome is in God’s hands. I marvel at how strong and courageous Mom has been during her journey, and this strengthens me to face another day.