Caregivers are often thrust into a role for which they could not have prepared or have imagined. They must quickly become an expert and advocate for their loved one.
This was the case for Steve Schenck, whose wife, Becky, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Brain Cancer and given 12-15 months to live. Upon her diagnosis, he retired early from his job, helped to make crucial, quick medical decisions, and went on to care for her for 10 years.
Steve acknowledges that while some may view caregiving as an obligation, it’s important to recognize that it’s a gift. He agrees with a University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Caregiving Handbook that says, “there is no work more important, more challenging or more meaningful than caring for a loved one who is ill” or dying.
A Caregiver’s Role
The task that caregivers face is great. According to the UCSF Handbook, a list of duties that caregivers must attend to includes but is not limited to:
For Steve, who cared for Becky through her seizures and failing health, the hardest part was seeing everything that most of us take for granted taken away from Becky over the 10 years she fought brain cancer. Even though she had an inspiring and positive attitude, Steve watched as she lost her ability to drive, her coordination, and eventually her speech capabilities. Other caregivers must also watch their loved ones struggle with their illnesses, while they remain strong and vigilant in their care.
If you are a caregiver in need of resources, we recommend you read UCSF’s Caregiving Handbook. While this handbook focuses on Brain Tumor patients, it has valuable information for all those in a caregiving role.
You can also find caregiver resources in Beyond Words, Becky and Steve Schenck’s story of faith, hope, and love in the face of brain cancer. Read the first three chapters of Beyond Words for free by clicking ‘Look Inside’ on Amazon.