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A Military Caregiver's Story

Dec. 17, 2015 | By glancaster

caregiver |ˈke(ə)rˌgivər| noun:  a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.

 Meghan Harms is married to a United States Marine who has been fighting a rare form of cancer, appendiceal carcinoma, for more than three years. The cancer has spread from the appendix to his colon, abdominal wall, bladder, prostate and is now in the lower part of his spine. They recently received a terminal diagnosis.

 I am not only my husband’s wife: I am his personal assistant, his non-certified nurse, taxi driver, record keeper, pharmacist, maid, chef, and, most importantly, his partner. When we got married in 2008, I took a vow, “In sickness and in health,” and I very much meant it. There are days when all the stress gets the better of me; and days where I have so much to do, and all I want to do is lie on the couch and hope my to-do list completes itself. But reality hits and I have to pick myself up and get it done. My days consist of pill boxes, doctor visits, bills, pharmacy runs, cleaning, and cooking. It never ends. But I have a saying, “When life gives you lemons, you have to make the best lemonade you can.” 

VIRIN: 151217-N-ZZ098-6390

Parents do their best to get you ready for the world, but no one can possibly prepare you for something of this magnitude.  Attitude is everything. It’s incredibly hard to focus on the positive, but you have to. You have to find the silver lining in your life and focus on it. If not, your life will be surrounded with regret. We were so fortunate to get Joey in to a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering, a world renowned cancer hospital in New York City, under the direction of Dr. Garrett Nash. Having a doctor like Doc Nash on your team is nothing less than a blessing. He truly cares about his patients. It is so important that you are comfortable with your doctor- having a good and trusting relationship makes the whole process that much smoother.

Everyone has a story. We all go through hard times at some point; some people have it worse than others. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone hears our story, and they say, “I am so sorry.” I know they don’t mean anything by it, but this is my life. Life is not always fair, but we have the power to write how the story goes. It can either be a sad story or an inspirational one. I choose to inspire. And I know as crazy as it sounds, I love my life. I love my family. I have a lot to be grateful for. I have an incredible husband, a son that can light up a room with his smile, a stepdaughter that has the biggest heart, and a family that has gone above and beyond. I am not sorry.

Military Caregiver Resources:

Discover information and resources for Military Caregivers, learn about PEER forums and download the latest copy of the Caregiver Resource Directory.