Caregiver Contest Runner Up Heather: When Days Are Long

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
03/08/18  1:17 PM PST
When Days Are Long

Heather R. is from California and a mom of an amazing son who is medically fragile. He has experienced many surgeries and challenges and has a rare diagnosis yet faces each day with a smile. She enjoys traveling, going to the theater, beach, movies, and spending time with family and friends. After receiving the email informing her of her win, Heather wrote, “When I submitted this it was very late at night after having a rough day between dealing with my son’s health and once again having to fight the school for services for my son and didn’t even consider winning. So, when I received this email, not only was I surprised but reinvigorated for the continued fights ahead. I truly appreciate the recognition of my advice, in addition the recognition as a caregiver I rarely receive. The acknowledgment is meaningful.”

What advice would you give a fellow caregiver?

As a caregiver to my 12-year-old son (pictured above) who is medically fragile, and has had 20 surgeries, 5 heart surgeries, and a heart attack, my advice is simple. Be strong and brave, be positive, research, surround yourself with positive people, and always have hope.

I am not saying it is easy. In fact, being a caregiver where a life depends on me is the most intense and challenging endeavor I will ever experience. Knowing the health and happiness of a loved one is a direct result of my efforts motivates me to give it my all.

When I am tired, I listen to my son breathe and know what a miracle he is. When I am stressed, I listen to his laugh and see his smile and know it is all worth it. When days are long, I see his strength, bravery, how he never gives up, and how he inspires so many and I become recharged for another day.

As a parent/caregiver of a medically fragile child, I constantly worry if my son will take his next breath or his heart will beat once more.

Caregivers are used to caring selflessly. Try to be as loving and kind to yourself as you are to those you care for. Get a pedicure, massage, or do something fun, but most importantly speak to yourself the way you deserve. You are significant and important to someone’s life and that is precious and priceless.

My final advice: always remember the sun will rise again tomorrow.

Click here to return to the contest home page and read more winners’ advice.

Winners were selected by a panel of independent judges, including: Sandra Mitchell, Award-winning KCAL 9 news anchor and breast cancer survivor, and the Landers family: actor and comedian David Landers (“Laverne & Shirley”) who is living with MS, his wife Kathy and his daughter Natalie (“The Middle”). Click here to learn more.

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