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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Dad & Tom /  Editorial List  

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Dad and Tom

I received an email last week from a social worker at a hospital in the Midwest. She has been a subscriber to this newsletter and Today’s Caregiver magazine for the past few years and has read my impassioned pleas to caregivers about the benefits of support groups.

She is interested in starting a support group in her community and wanted to know what challenges she may face in reaching out to family caregivers. As I was putting together an email response to her, I flashed back to my dad and his view of support groups.

Dad retired in 1990 at the age of 59 but soon afterward developed bone marrow cancer, although he was a gregarious guy and loved nothing more than learning about the people he would meet, (he remembered details about my college roommate when they met again over ten years after my graduation) and was as comfortable talking with the guys on the line in his lumber plants as he was talking with the “suits” at corporate headquarters. Unfortunately, convincing Dad that spending time in a support group of others also dealing with cancer would be of value to him seemed an unlikely prospect. 

Therefore, I was justifiably surprised when, in a news report saturated with Gulf War stories, Tom Brokaw, ended his program with a personal interest story about cancer support groups.  They cut away to a support group in my home town of Miami, Florida and there was my dad, in a lively discussion with his fellow support group members.  A few months later, shortly before he passed away, dad told me that he regretted not finding his support group earlier than he did, because that little group had become such an important part of his life.  

Support groups. Spread the word.


Gary Barg

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