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Sandi Ramos-Radford continued the interview.
In her words, “My story is like that of many others. We sought out every option, went through every door God opened for us, and got 10 months before the cancer won out. During those months, I sought out help from many, including trying to find resources to help caregivers. If you’ve gone through this process, you know they are almost impossible to find. So, you struggle along with everything you’ve got to give, hoping it’s enough, knowing it’s not.
We were fortunate in having family with us to help. My older daughter lived within 16 miles and gave all the time she could while taking care of her own family. My younger daughter lived in Georgia, married to a soldier. He got a compassionate reassignment to a nearby Army post. They sold their house (no profit, of course) and moved in with us – daughter, husband, three girls and three dogs. It made life bearable. Our girls and their families were a gift, and I can never thank them enough.”
Sandi had an outlet, she discussed, “Over most of those 10 months, I kept a journal. After Roy’s death, I browsed through it, amazed at all we had accomplished as well as how much we had learned. One day, it dawned on me that I had a lot of life experience as a caregiver to share with others, perhaps make their trips a little easier. Thus, I set myself a goal to write a book to help others on that journey. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it proved to be a great catharsis for me. It took 18 months and LOTS of tears to write it. Finding a publisher was fruitless, so I decided to get a subsidiary publisher. I put in part of the money up front, and they provided all the expertise I needed to get it finished. I used Tate Publishing. They are very professional, had great insight, depth of knowledge and showed a genuine caring for me. It was published in 2010. I believe God gave me a mission to reach out to others and provide them with this resource. I have hesitated from doing so in the past 2 ½ years, but I now feel the timing is right for me to complete this mission. I wrote a book specifically for caregivers of loved ones with life altering illnesses.”
She talked about her book, “He Carries Me, is a faith-based book to help the caregivers of loved ones and friends who have had a life altering medical experience. The purpose is to help those who must take on this role to understand the challenges, emotions, and spiritual hurdles one may encounter by giving personal insight through my story. I researched web sites concerning his illness and, in doing so, found a lack of resources to support the caregivers of the terminally ill. My strength throughout this journey was my faith and, at times, it was sorely tested. I endeavor to help similar travelers on this road to understand some of the challenges, know that the emotions felt by them area normal, realize that there may be tangible patient support resources available, and be aware that there is a presence to which they can always turn – God.
As I worked through this project, I was reminded of the Footprints poem in which Christ carried the writer during his darkest times, hence the title. It is not a book meant to evangelize or make Christian converts. It is a word of hope and enlightenment to others who are caregivers of the terminally ill or a loved one who can no longer take care of themselves. It is a written message to let them know that they are not along, that there are many others with the same feelings, frustrations, and losses that they are experiencing.
I originally wrote the book for caregivers of terminally ill family and friends. Since it was published, I’ve found that caregivers who have been thrust into the role also include those caring for those with Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and many other debilitating diseases.
The strengths on this book are (1) that it’s written by someone personally involved in the processes described; (2) the faith content is handled naturally through my own personal convictions and experience; (3) it reaches out to readers and includes material that’s directly related to them; and, (4) it’s an important topic that has little published about it.
For all of these reasons, I like to consider this book an essential resource for a caregiver. I know many are lost in the abyss of overwhelming emotions and loss of direction. As I explain in this book, there is a way to move through, over and around obstacles. However, none can overcome the finality of the outcome. You just have to get there the best way you can and pray for strength to do it.
As I explain in the book, you are not alone -- not in the sense you may feel yourself to be. There ARE others out there who have survived this. There is help for you after all is over. I chose to seek a professional grief counselor. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my adult life, and I greatly wish that you consider this option. There may be many loved ones around you, many who have great faith, but they have not lived through what you have. Okay, they may have had similar situations, but THEY ARE NOT YOU. We each approach these circumstances differently, and our needs are UNIQUE! But, a professional grief counselor has seen death issues from many, many angles. Don’t over think it. Just get that help!
Sandi’s closing words, “After three years of counseling and meeting all my what ifs and fears, I finally moved forward. Roy specifically said he wanted me to live on, to experience life to the fullest. At the time, I thought that it would be impossible to do that. How wrong I was!
I was most fortunate to meet a like soul, Jerry Radford, almost three years into counseling. He had gone through a like experience, losing his wife of 13 years to cancer 2 ½ years before. We share similar educational, professional, and, especially important, spiritual backgrounds. The day we met, it was as if God was bringing us home to one another. We have been inseparable every since. We are aware of the value of life and embrace it fully every day. The greatest part – neither of us has lost our independence, yet we are interdependent. He does things that I don’t do and vice versa. However, there are so many more things we do together. He fully supports my choices as I do his, but major decisions are made together.
Above all, remember others will help you. Don’t lose sight of yourself – that REALLY important. Embrace life every day, for our days are numbered. Don’t lose your spirit or sense of humor; doing that will devour your soul. Most importantly, God loves you. He will not forsake you. If you need to refresh that thought, go back and read the Footprints in the Sand poem. He truly does carry us through all adversity. I pray you find the strength to go forward with your role as caregiver, and I hope that I have given you some insight and help on that journey.”
Check out Sandi’s website or http://hecarriesme.tateauthor.com/ or you can order her book on www.amazon.com.
If you are local to her in Virginia you can meet her and purchase her book in an upcoming book event:
Date: November 16, 2013
Time: 12:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Location: Charlottesville & Albemarle American Legion Post 743025 Louisa Road, Keswick, Virginia