09/30/2020 By Karen Carty
Seventeen years ago I was living a normal life. Normal being I was a wife, Mom and working full time. Taking a yearly family vacation up in northern Michigan was also part of our normal life. It was there that my oldest daughter Jessica, who was 16 at the time, started exhibiting symptoms that I suspected were related to mono. A week after returning home, however, she was not diagnosed with mono but a far more sinister condition. Cancer had joined our family in the form of leukemia. ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer. Indeed we were told that was the “good” leukemia. We were thrown into a world we had no desire to be in. I became the primary caregiver of my daughter while still trying to maintain a household, attend sporting events of my other daughter who was just 15, and working at a job I needed to keep. Throughout the 2 1/2 yrs of standard treatment I discovered my voice; after all who was going to speak for my daughter when she was focused on just getting through the day. I also found my love of being involved in some local cancer organizations. I’ve been vocal about our cancer journey, but try to make sure caregivers know that they are an important piece of a cancer patients recovery. Caregivers are mostly forgotten about. Seventeen years ago I had no resources or emotional support. Each September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month I revisit my story in hopes that anyone who needs an ear or shoulder reaches out so they don’t feel alone. Cancer will always be a threat but I no longer think of it every day.
GRYT is being the proud mom of a now 17 yr leukemia survivor who is now an oncology social worker
GRYT is not being afraid to talk to someone about their cancer or being afraid to visit the hospital
GRYT is being an integral part of an important fundraiser for a local free cancer support community
GRYT is taking immense joy in my two grandsons who’s mama is a SURVIVOR
GRYT is offering up myself to someone who needs love and reassurance that they aren’t alone as they take care of a loved one fighting the battle
GRYT is recognizing that caregivers are survivors too!!