ARTICLES / Story Contest Winners / Determined Wife /
Share This Article
By: Christina Garner
My voyage as a fearless caregiver
began on December 19, 2001. This role has
challenged me to grow, adapt, and personally reflect in
order to persist beyond the challenges. I wouldn’t
have chosen to be anywhere else but with my family.
Being an educator and family advocate professionally
prepared me for the role I would take when my husband
became ill. However, social isolation and support
erosion shocked me and compelled me to take care of
myself and prepare for my role just as you would for a
job interview or career change.
Juggling the competing demands of increased
housekeeping, maintenance, administrative tasks,
communicator, symptom management, and social supporter
seemed to create a discovery of personal strength and
deepen our family relationship. Consequently, the
influence of advocacy for my family has become my prime
focus. I am the only one who knows what my family’s
fears, medical history, finances, and physical needs
are. Making myself aware of resources, illness
terminology, and natural progressions of disease is my
greatest weapon. Honesty with our friends and
family when they ask what we need, or just the action of
asking for help, gives them the blessing to be able to
be used. Each agency I come in contact with is
only here to work FOR ME. If it were not for my
needs, they would not have a job.
By fighting constraints of time available, I have found
that personally taking care of my own physical needs
through checkups will avoid future health deterioration.
Creating a road map to guide me during the sad times has
been an enormous help. Gathering a group of people
who are willing participants in my emotional health,
developing coping skills, and journaling have allowed me
to let down my mask in safety. I have given myself
permission to be sad, angry, disappointed, lonely,
tired, and even happy.
Through the help of friends, family, FMLA [Family and
Medical Leave Act], and various companies, we were able
to celebrate life while traveling over 9,000 miles
through 19 states in four weeks on only $1,500.
This time alone has made all the difference in how we
deal with the complex array of emotions, concerns for
quality of life, unresolved conflicts, and unexpressed
losses. You cannot travel in a car for weeks
without having some very hard conversations. I
truly believe this has given us the greatest peace and
helped prepare us for the hard end-of-life decisions.
Remolding family traditions and holding on to our faith
have been a boundless assets. Asking for help and
receiving the blessings from friends, family, and
extended support systems have given the dignity every
human needs to survive the physical change, pain, and
emotional trauma of living with a debilitating cancer.
We together have remodeled our home to meet this goal.
For me, being a fearless caregiver is worth the pay!