At Lung Cancer Alliance we are focused on the lung cancer patient; offering support, answering questions and helping them on their journey. It is easy to overlook some of the most important people in the lung cancer journey– the caregivers. Those husbands, mothers, daughters, fathers, sisters and friends who are with the patient through it all. We recognized this and made a point to support the supporters, particularly at end of life or during the grieving process.
Shelly Bedrick has been a caregiver phone buddy volunteer, or what we now call a “GUIDE,” for nearly six years. She offers support and guidance and answers questions from caregivers of lung cancer patients who are at end of life stages or have lost their battle with the disease. “I do it to let people know it is going to be OK. As horrible as the times are, the sweetest moments are gathered during this time with your loved ones,” says Shelly.
Doug, Shelly’s dad, was an elementary school principal for most of his life. He was dedicated to the children, education and his family. He worked up until the last few months of his life, resigning just three months before his death. “He had a heart of gold. He was a great man, always treating everyone equally. He would do anything for anyone. He was my best friend.”
As her father began to weaken, Shelly looked for ways to help him and raise his spirits. She stumbled upon our Phone Buddy program, which connected Doug with a woman who had been through the same type of cancer and treatment that he was facing. “Their friendship was an extremely important part of his lung cancer journey. Having someone to share stories, ask questions and help him through the process was crucial.” At the young age of 65, Doug lost his three year battle with lung cancer.
After that, Shelly stayed in touch with us and soon became a GUIDE, in hopes of helping in any way she could. Now she provides support and guidance to caregivers who are helping a loved on through end stage lung cancer. “Although it is emotional, knowing that I am doing it for my dad and helping others gives me an inner strength.”
Shelly, who leaned on her faith during her father’s death, finds that it provides her great peace to know that she will one day see her dad again. She reminds those that she works with of this and it helps tremendously.
“There is an innocence in people as they go through these difficult times. I know that having someone to talk to, who has been in their shoes, makes a huge difference. The questions get very specific, raw and honest. I tell my story, hoping that it gives them insight into what to expect and that, although it may not seem it, everything will be OK. ”
Shelly speaks with caregivers at the hardest times. Sometimes she hears from them after their loved one has passed and sometimes she doesn’t. She always follows up down the road, making sure they know they are not alone and they have a greater support system in the lung cancer community and the LCA family.
We remind you that we are here to help. For answers for your questions, for free support services or to get involved and make a difference call our HelpLine at 1-800-298-2436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.