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 The Richard Cohen-Meredith Vieira Interview (Page 3 of 3)

An Interview with Richard Cohen & Meredith Vieira


GB:  So partner with your doctor, donít fear them.

MV:  I think that a caregiver has to ultimately be the advocate for the person with the illness and that means being their ears.  It wasnít the MS, it was with colon cancer when at the end of the doctorís appointment, it was clear that Richard had missed so much of it.  Because he was hearing it, but it wasnít sinking in.  I think itís fair enough for the caregiver to be there with the pencil and the paper and asking the questions because when youíre the one with the illness, itís so overwhelming sometimes that you donít hear whatís being said to you.  

GB:  Tell me about

RC:  Well is the website that we set up to go online when the book was published. On the last page of the book, we invited people to tell us their stories, including caregivers.   It would be great to have this national dialogue without sounding grandiose about it, with patients and caregivers talking to each other; because if there is anything both Meredith and I have learned in the wake of me doing this book, and I didnít really know this before, but people who are sick draw a tremendous strength from each other.

MV:  People reveal their stories and they open up about what theyíre going through. They help other people and it actually comes full circle in terms of caregiving.

GB:   If there were only one piece of advice you could leave family caregivers with, what would that be?

MV:   I believe in taking it one day at a time and seeing it as a family affair. As much as you give, you get back.  I think when you keep it in that perspective, itís much healthier for everybody involved and it makes it, in some ways, light lifting because youíre not doing the lifting alone.

RC:   I guess it would be for patients and caregivers to believe in themselves.  I think that people are stronger than they think they are.  I think that we all stand at intersections or sit in coffee shops and overhear other people talking and I wish I had a dollar for every time Iíve heard somebody say in any context, ďOh I couldnít ever deal with that,Ē or ďI couldnít possibly cope with that,Ē and I always want to turn to them and say, ďHow do you know?  Youíre probably much stronger than you know.  How do you know you wouldnít rise to the occasion?Ē  

I think that people sell themselves short. People have a reservoir of strength and resilience that is invisible to them.  Itís something that they cannot see, but itís available to them and I think that if people believe in themselves and their strength a little bit more, the rest can fall into place.  Whether itís getting through a bad time or whether itís confronting a doctor, both of which can be daunting.  Both are doable; people just have to believe in themselves enough.  So, I guess that would be my hope for anybody. 


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