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My Story:
I am a wife and mom. Our daughter just started Kindergarten, I am amazed how time has flown by.

My caregiving story began about eight years ago when my grandmother moved in with my parents. My grandmother's dementia advanced quickly and my mom struggled trying to care for her once very independent, strong, outgoing mom. Interestingly though, my dad, related and cared for my grandmother much easier. Eventually, for everyone's sanity we found a wonderful facility in the town I live. Often, I would visit my grandmother up to three times a day. I felt no one could care for her as well as I could. I learned so much about dementia and Alzheimer's during this time and will share more with you as time goes on.

My grandmother passed away when I was pregnant. I say she helped me through my first and second trimester, always happy to see me, even though to her I was a pregnant stranger who visited her often. Every day, I would say to her, "I have something to tell you, I am going to have a baby". She would always be so excited and give a me a great piece of advice on pregnancy or parenting, before retreating back into the depths of her own unreality. She would touch my stomach and say, "Celia", her own sister's name. We decided not to find out if we were having a boy or girl, but with each visit I just knew I was having a girl. And of course, Cecilia would be part of her name.

My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, when my daughter was one. The shock and disbelief was overwhelming for our family. Our lives were turned upside down. Once again, roles were reversed for my mom and I. Her goal was to continue to be first and foremost a mom to my sister, brother, myself and grandchildren, she needed to care for her kids. She was uncomfortable with us caring for her physically and emotionally and it was extremely difficult for us. Our lives revolved around almost daily doctor appointments, scans, surgeries, chemo, radiation and trying to entertain a toddler while plowing through the maze of treatments and emotions. My mom was unbelievably strong, she very rarely complained about her physical pain. She lost her battle with cancer about seven months after diagnosis. We as a family are still reeling from this and how the illnesses and loss of our family members has forever changed us.

Balancing everyday, normal life is difficult, but when caring for a loved one the balance becomes almost impossible. It is important to remember to also take care of yourself and your other relationships. I know from experience this is sometimes the farthest thing from your mind. Together we will lend support, share ideas and network for coping during this time of Caregiving.

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