"Prognosis? It's about six months. I'm sorry."
No one wants to hear those words from a doctor. It's even worse hearing them for someone you love.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 5:10pm on an early Friday evening when I learned my mother was diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer.
Immediate thoughts then raced through my mind:
What does that mean?
How do I tell her?
How will she react?
Will she die?
Will she suffer?
What do we do next?
What do I do next?
The next few weeks were a dizzy blur of doctors appointments, tests, scans, crying, laughing, and everything in between.
We talked to 9 doctors in the first three weeks. 7 contradicted the other 2 on the best course of action. 8 gave her 6 months. The 9th gave her 6-12 months.
Best available statistics suggested a 5 year survival rate of <0.5% at the time (not even 1%)!
Happy update: We're now 8 and half years since my mom's initial diagnosis with stage 4 cancer.
So just because doctors give you six months, it's not written in stone. But it also hasn't been easy. During that time, we've had many downs and many ups. We've learned a lot as a family.
I've learned a lot as a caregiver.
And I hope you can learn something useful from our experience.
And I put all of those lessons into this course so that it could possibly help you if you find yourself or family in similar circumstances.
I'm also gathering and documenting the best tips and advice from other individuals who just want to help out and share.
This course is a work in progress.
As I gather and learn more, I'll share them in this course.
Who is the course for?
The caregivers: It's for you if you find yourself (suddenly) thrust into the role of caring for a loved one who is facing serious or terminal illness and want strategies, tips, and best practices to help you give your best care.
The care receivers: It's for those of you who are receiving care from a loved one for your serious illness and want to better understand what they're going through and how you could best support their efforts in caring for you. Help them help you!
The care supporters: It's for those of you who are family, significant others, friends, or colleagues to a caregiver and want to know how best to support them.
What's not in the course?
Because every ones medical situation or illness is different and I am not a medical doctor, I will not be providing any medical advice (for good reason).
What I will provide are strategies, tips, tools, links to resources, and other daily practices that have helped me as a caregiver.
Why did you make this course?
So many things I know now that I wish I knew at the very beginning. I would have felt less lost, less overwhelmed, and less stressed. I would have been able to give my mom even better care.
So I hope I could help others who are at earlier stages of their own journeys.
But I'm still learning and looking for ways to do better. With your feedback, I'm sure I'll also learn from you new ways to improve the care that I could continue to give my mom.
Plus, it would really make my mom smile knowing that our experience might be helping others, even complete strangers.