Special thanks to those that keep giving

Published 8:56 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2018

There are people every day that take on the responsibility of being a caregiver for someone they love, and more often than not those responsibilities get juggled with already heavy schedules.

People like Lynn Wehner, who spoke with the Suffolk News-Herald this week about her husband John’s cancer diagnosis back in April 2012. Wehner immediately became her husband’s caregiver while she simultaneously took care of their children.

She consumed as much information as she could about acute myeloid leukemia without getting overwhelmed while her husband went through the first round of chemotherapy. The family had just two weeks of respite after the cancer went into remission before they traveled to Richmond for a consultation on a bone marrow transplant, which he received in September 2012.

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“He had to be within 30 miles of the hospital, and so we rented an apartment,” Wehner told the Suffolk News-Herald. “My daughter was his full-time caregiver, and my son said he would take care of mom at the house.”

Her mother battled brain cancer while her husband was being treated, but Wehner had the opportunity to spend a few weeks with her mother before she passed away.

Wehner felt blessed to have supportive family, friends and coworkers through an ordeal that forced her to balance being a mother and a nurse with little control over what could happen. She said that the experience taught her the futility of trying to control everything and to worry less about future uncertainties.

She then turned her pain into strength by participating in Relay for Life. She had been participating since her former college roommate had battled breast cancer, she said, and the Relay gave her a chance to fight back.

She also admitted that both Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society gave her something to lean on as a caregiver.

“As a caregiver, it’s nice to have the individual support for someone that is tired and needs to connect,” Wehner said.

There are endless stories like Wehner’s of more people facing the same stress across the world, giving all they have to care for someone else.

My mother, Renee Perry, did just that with my grandfather, Henry Edwin Williamson. He passed away in March 2012. As far back as I can remember, she made the drive from our house to his every day to give him medicine, prepare his meals and show him love.

Even when his medical complications worsened and things got tougher, my mother did everything she could for the man everybody called “Hank.”

I was reminded of my mother reading Wehner’s story and her advice for other caregivers: it’s OK to ask for help, no matter how hard it feels.

“People want to help,” Wehner said.

Thank you, mom, for doing all you could for Granddad, while being a full-time wife and pushing overtime as a mother. Thank you to everyone else doing the same impossible juggling day in and day out.

But remember that there are people there ready to help. Please ask for help, and don’t do this alone.