Voices of Caregiving
Caregiver Holly Barnes:
All of my life, I was the picture of perfect health. Then eight years ago I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. My sister Emily was my champion. My husband and my daughter were supportive, but Emily was always at my side.
Then, 4 years ago, Emily found out she had cancer, and I became her caregiver. Because I had cancer first, and because I had been taken care of first, I had a different perspective on how to take care of my sister. I thought of it … as a privilege.
She cooked, she cleaned, she fed me, she bathed me. She helped my husband keep up with the doctor bills. She even taught my daughter how to do the laundry, something I could never do. She had been there for me, so I was going to be there for her. It wasn't easy, but it was an honor.
I knew I had to be strong for my sister. You could say I became a cancer specialist. I met with her doctors. I spent hours online researching new treatments. I was even there at three in the morning to hold her hand when the pain was just unbearable. Being a caregiver to someone is the hardest job there is. It takes so much out of you, but it gives so much back.
You never know what it's like to be a caregiver until you become one. But when a loved one is unable to care for themselves, suddenly you become nurse, advocate, housekeeper, and 24-hour support staff. Anyone can be a caregiver.
Birgit Lillehei, to her mother/caregiver Patsy Jean Lillehei:
You have been a wonderful caregiver as I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. You wanted me to be happy, you wanted me to be healthy. You wanted all of that. You are everything to me.
When you extend help to someone who needs it, no man is an island. There's always someone who needs help.
Caregiver Leah Lax:
Nothing mattered now, except keeping him alive. I found strength I didn't know I had.
Bob Casey, to his son/caregiver:
I was 50, and it took me pretty quickly. When I couldn't move, you carried me.
Caregiver Carrie Schneider:
It just kindof became my job, you know, to take care of her. And looking back, a good portion of the positive memories that I have of my mom are from those months taking care of her.
Listening to caregiver stories gives us insight into their feelings, frustrations, and healthcare decisions. It helps Humana better understand how we can support caregivers and help them and their loved ones live life fully. You can see it in our caregiver's newsletter, and Caregiver's Toolkit, and in the helpful information we provide, including resources to help manage a variety of conditions, tips on personal care, and access to our nurse hotlines. These efforts are just the start of Humana's commitment to caregivers, providing them with the organizational and emotional support they need. To learn more, visit humana.com/caregiver.
Caregiver Holly Barnes:
I'm grateful I made a difference in my sister's life.