October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
, but what does that have to do with Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving? Nothing, except that women make up the majority of caregivers in the United States. This means that over 60 percent of caregivers
are susceptible to breast cancer.
Breast cancer hits home
My sister, Ruth, was the picture of health. She and I had been sharing primary caregiving duties for our mom for several years when she discovered a lump in her breast. She was sure that the lump was nothing to worry about, as she’d just had a clear mammogram. However, as it turned out, the lump was a tumor, not a glitch.
On the day she received a breast cancer diagnosis, her biggest concern was how we would continue to care for our mom together.
Ruth told me, “The only concern I have is mom. How will we care for mom?”
She broke the news to me over the phone. I did my best to reassure her and encourage her to concentrate on one thing: getting better. My family and I would take on full caregiving
responsibilities so that my sister could focus on her treatment. I meant it, but even as the words left my lips, I wondered how we would manage.
I wasn’t worried about balancing care for mom without my sister, though I knew it would be an adjustment. My greatest fear was that I couldn’t be there for both of them at the same time. How would I care for mom and still be available for my sister in the weeks and months ahea