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 In Their Shoes

I am looking forward to seeing my friend Deborah Delaney on May 20th.  She is the Executive Director of SarahCare Adult Day Care in Savage, Minnesota, and our partner in our first Minnesota area Fearless Caregiver Conference. The event will be held in Shakopee, which is right down the street from Savage. (Too bad; I wanted to say that I was hosting a Savage event.)   I received a call from Deb after not having been in touch for a while to hear the shocking announcement that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She stopped me as I was attempting to console her and said that she was doing well. In fact, something extraordinary came out of her experience. 
In Debís own words:    
It was one of the most devastating experiences in my life to hear I had cancer and that I had to go through both chemotherapy and radiation.

I kept saying to myself that there has to be a message in this experience.  During chemotherapy, I started to get what is known as Chemo Brain, which includes losing your short-term memory. Never in my world have I experienced short-term memory before.
Mind you, I have great recall and a strong memory and kept working through this entire process.
I noticed a significant change in my memory when I started to make business calls and then, when the person would call back, I had no idea who they were or why I placed the call.
In addition, I was misfiling documentation, losing my keys, and would get so frustrated that I would start to cry.
Then it dawned on me; the message that I was to take from this experience is that I get to live through what my loved ones (clients) feel at my adult day center. I began to experience their frustrations in loss of memory. I felt their pain. I felt the loss of dignity when I looked and acted confused in front of people while trying to look like I had it together. I couldnít recall current events, but I could remember things from the past.
I knew my memory would return in three months or so, but my loved ones at the center would never regain their memory.

For Deb, the spiritual side of this recognition had such an impact that it renewed her already intense commitment to the loved ones for whom her center cares on a daily basis. She said that her experience also recommitted her to consistently validate how they are feeling for the remaining years of their lives.
Talk about a silver lining.
Please join us in Minnesota and at our other upcoming events.  



Gary Barg

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