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MAGAZINE / Mar-Apr 2008 / The Richard Cohen-Meredith Vieira Interview

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The Richard Cohen/Meredith Vieira Interview

A Portrait in Care
(Page 3 of 3)

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 didn’t 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 they’re 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, it’s much healthier for everybody involved and it makes it, in some ways, light lifting because you’re 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 I’ve heard somebody say in any context, “Oh I couldn’t ever deal with that,” or “I couldn’t possibly cope with that,” and I always want to turn to them and say, “How do you know?  You’re probably much stronger than you know.  How do you know you wouldn’t rise to the occasion?” 

I think that people sell themselves short. People have a reservoir of strength and resilience that is invisible to them.  It’s something that they cannot see, but it’s 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 it’s getting through a bad time or whether it’s 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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