What Does a Great Caregiver Do?
By: Laura Effel
When I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2012, I had never heard of the disease.
Learning that I had cancer was terrifying, and it didn’t help that my first husband had died of cancer. My primary care doctor tried to reassure me: “Multiple myeloma is treatable. I have patients who have lived with this disease for 10 and 20 years.”
But my husband Robert knew what to do. His father had had multiple myeloma years before we were married, when treatments were rare and not especially effective. He had gotten to know Dr. Brian Durie and the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) that Dr. Durie headed and signed us up for its patient and family seminar. At the meeting he asked Dr. Durie: who should we get to treat Laura? The answer set us on our path.
The IMF meeting was only the beginning of our journey to get treatment for me with one of the nation’s best myeloma specialists. After nearly two dozen treatments in more than 8 years, including 6 clinical trials, I finally reached remission for the first time this year.
Along the way, Robert took care of me. He never hesitated to drive me to the emergency room, several times late at night. Any time I was in crisis, he was there for me. He would tell members of our support group that he just drives the car, but that was never all. He did the grocery shopping, cooked our meals, nudged me to consume more protein, read my test results, asked questions of my doctor, helped me to understand. Trained as a chemist and food scientist, he made sure he knew what I needed and provided it.
I have the best, most loving caregiver and partner anyone could have.
How lucky I am!