If you or a loved one are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you know you are facing a difficult road ahead. The disease begins with memory loss, confusion and trouble making decisions, and gets worse over time, eventually affecting basic control over the body. But with the help of a medical specialty called palliative care, there is a lot that can be done to make people living with dementia more comfortable and reduce distress.
For junior high sweethearts Darryl and Andrea Gladden, the needs of their three daughters and one son have always come before anything else.
“All we have ever wanted is for our kids to be able to do what brings them happiness,” says Darryl.
This need to support their children at every turn has been magnified over the years as all three of their daughters were diagnosed with lupus when each entered their teen years.
For many years, Beth, 55, of Baltimore couldn’t shake the nickname her sister and friends gave her.
“They called me Balloon Hand Beth because whenever someone needed something, my hand would float up to volunteer,” says Beth.
Beth has always been very active and willing to pitch in. In her professional life, she has worked tirelessly to improve her city’s environment one planted tree at a time as the Director of the Office of Sustainability in Baltimore. Most days, if she’s not helping out a relative or preparing to host a family holiday party, she can be found in her garden, meticulously growing her own food. … Read More
Cathy, 62, has always loved jogging and doing step aerobics, but her true passion is tending to the flowers in her garden.
“I just love being outside and getting my hands in the dirt,” says Cathy, born and raised in Dayton, Ohio.
Cathy will be the first to tell you that gardening takes both patience and the willingness to start anew when a flower doesn’t grow like she’d hoped. “It’s okay when something doesn’t go your way out there. It’s all about adapting and moving forward,” says Cathy.
Cathy has had to apply those same principles to her own life as well. A diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer in 2012—the second time she had been diagnosed with this illness—halted her active and productive life. She faced an uphill climb of difficult chemotherapy regiments and an uncertain future.
After dealing with painful symptoms from the chemotherapy and the stress of managing the ups and downs of her battle for over four years, she asked for better care from her medical professionals. She was referred to palliative care who now work every day to get her back to her active life.
This is Cathy’s story.
Matt is about to start another abstract painting. With classic rock music blasting in the background, he holds the brush between his lips, steadies his neck and presses the brush against the canvas.
A few months ago, Matt, 38, wouldn’t have believed you if you told him he’d be painting again. Fourteen years ago, a severe car accident left him paralyzed from the upper chest down. While his diaphragm wasn’t paralyzed in the accident, it was weakened significantly, which has caused Matt to have breathing problems that have grown progressively worse over time. Those issues coupled with severe nerve pain and the emotional stress of dealing with the traumatic events of the accident have been a daily struggle.
Gregory has never been much of a runner. When it comes to exercise, he’s always preferred hiking. But tomorrow, along with his wife and two young children, he’s going to attempt to run his first 5K. For any of us who don’t run very often, a race like this would seem like a challenge in and of itself. But for Gregory—who has been living with stage IV metastatic non-small cell lung cancer for a little over a year now—it’s much more than that.
“If you had asked me back then if I ever thought I’d be here preparing to run a race, I wouldn’t have believed you,” says Gregory from his home outside Atlanta.
For 50 years—three years of courtship and 47 years of marriage—Barbara and Laren of Atlanta have always struck the perfect balance. Barbara, the retired nurse and eternal optimist, is a bubbly dreamer who loves spending her free time in her garden so she can “hold mother nature’s hand.” Laren, the scientist and down-to-earth realist, is guided by practicality and a strict adherence to facts and numbers. Yet ever since the two met riding bikes while in college, they’ve been inseparable.
“We are very different people but it’s always just worked for us,” says Barbara. “Laren is the calm and patient one,” she adds through laughter.
Barbara has always been her family’s rock. While raising four highly-accomplished children or helping Laren deal with the struggles of his heart condition, Barbara has always been there standing strong. But more than two years ago, Barbara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and seemingly out of nowhere, the couple’s lives flipped upside down.
Many patients facing serious illness say that some of the most difficult things to deal with are pain, stress and a loss of control. This is because an illness like cancer, COPD, kidney disease or ALS can make an independent person feel helpless for the first time in their lives.
When we go into the hospital, we want to be treated for whatever is ailing us. We also expect to be heard and validated.
When Toby Palma, a Las Vegas, Nevada woman in her early 40s, went into the emergency room several times complaining of severe pain all over her body, the doctors kept telling her it was a minor kidney infection. … Read More
Kat Harrison of Dayton, OH has never been the type to sit around. As a former softball player and as a hard-working professional who often balanced multiple jobs, she has always been on the move. And luckily for her, she’s a frequent babysitter to four rambunctious grandchildren. As a result, she can often be found running around trying to keep things under control. She doesn’t mind.
“Oh my gosh, what isn’t there to like about being a grandmother? You see, being a parent is great, but being a grandparent is even better because you can be there for them and play with them, but then you get to send them back home and get some rest,” says Kat through laughter. … Read More