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We are so glad you found our resource card in the Thoughtful Human’s cancer-focused card series.

Don’t miss the story of Thoughtful Human’s founder, Ali O’Grady, below. Her story as a caregiver to her father during his cancer experience touched us—and we are so thrilled to be partnering with her to let others who can relate to her story know they are not alone.

And see the list of links to our free services for patients and caregivers.

RESOURCES

1. Support Groups & Counseling

In-person services, such as support groups, are available at 175 locations, including CSC and Gilda's Club affiliates and hospital partnerships. Find a location near you.

2. Education

Award-winning educational resources that advise patients on nutrition, finances, clinical trials, treatment options, and more.

3. Community

A free personalized digital platform called MyLifeLine.org that enables individuals to connect with friends and family to receive social, emotional, and practical support during their cancer experience.

4. Professional Guidance

The free Cancer Support Helpline® where licensed health-care professionals can help - call 888.793.9355 Monday through Friday 9 am - 9 pm EST.

5. Research & Advocacy

A patient- and caregiver-focused research institute and a grassroots network to capture the patient's experience and advocate for patient-focused policies at all government levels.

Ali O'Grady's Caregiver Story, Founder of Thoughtful Human

Growing up, I didn’t recognize “caregiving” as an act or service—it was just life. My mother became very ill with ulcerative colitis when I was 8 years old and, just as she made her recovery, my father was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.

As a teenager, caregiving looked a lot like sitting in a hospital room or at home watching movies with my dad. It was just keeping him company through his many rounds of chemo, radiation, and surgeries. It was little things like helping him grocery shop, getting his medicines, or just the newspaper when he was weak.

But in the summer of 2011, caregiving took on a whole new meaning. After nearly ten years in and out of remission, my father’s condition took a sharp and fast turn. Fortunately, I had just moved home from college and was able to step in as a full-time caregiver.

Suddenly this meant learning how to administer Total Parental Nutrition (TPN) at home to keep him alive. It meant performing sterile paracentesis in our living room to drain the acetes from his belly and give him some temporary relief. It meant tracking all the pills, swapping the Fentanyl patches, and rubbing topical pain relievers. It meant applying bandages to his legs to manage the edema. It meant sleepless night after sleepless night laying next to him on the couch, cleaning and measuring his incessant vomit to report back to his doctors.

Eventually it meant introducing a home hospital bed, walker, and commode, and watching my father’s heart break as one of his biggest fears—loss of mobility—became a reality at age 53.

It meant taking him—oxygen tanks, TPN, and all—to drive by some live music in the park, and to sail in his little boat one last time.

And finally, it meant not administering TPN and just watching, waiting for my favorite human to let go. Exhausted, delusional, devastated.

I share this experience with such candor not to overwhelm or discourage those who are fighting, but simply to validate and extend a deep, warm (albeit virtual) hug to families and caregivers in this position today. At the time I was 21. I didn’t know anyone going through something like this and thought I just might be the only one. I wasn’t—and I want to make sure you know you aren’t either.

As I reflect on it today at age 29, I’m able to recognize my caregiving experience in its entirety—as both the most challenging role of my life, and the most precious gift I could give to the person I loved most. As a defining moment of strength, character, and perseverance that would ultimately present my purpose and shape the rest of my life.