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Kary Jencks , New Hampshire

Caught by Surprise

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My personal caregiver story started in the fall of 2004. when I was 30. My husband and I were close to the due date of our first born son. We came back from refugee crisis and relief and community development work in West Africa to my childhood home in New Hampshire, at which time I was making $60k a year. We wanted to be with my family for the birth of my son.

The day after our return, my mother was diagnosed with a blood cancer. At the time she had been a caretaker for her
own mother. Things progressed quickly as my mother had been misdiagnosed with other aliments for about ten years before the cancer was properly diagnosed. My husband and I soon found ourselves acting as caregivers for both my grandmother and my mother. A few weeks later, our son was born on October 31, 2004. He was a great joy to all of us, but at the same time it meant that we now had three very needy family members for whom we were providing around-the-clock care. Our original plans to return to West Africa and my husband’s home country of Senegal were swiftly set aside as we had to settle in for the long haul to care for my mother and grandmother. We were not able to work full-time as doctor appointments and general daily care were time consuming and exhausting, especially with a newborn in tow. Our $30k in savings, which we were planning to put toward a down payment on a home, were quickly eaten up while caring for my mother and grandmother. We would do it all over again.