"Prognosis? It's about six months. I'm sorry."
Nobody wants to hear words like that from a doctor, especially of your mom.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 5:10pm on an early Friday evening.
Although the news was of my mother, hearing those words I felt as though it were my diagnosis.
Immediate thoughts then raced through my mind:
The next few weeks were a dizzy blur of doctors appointments, tests, scans, crying, laughing, and everything in between.
We talked to 9 doctors in the first three weeks. 7 contradicted the other 2 on the best course of action. 8 gave her 6 months. The 9th gave her 6-12 months.
Stats available at the time suggested a 5 year survival rate of <1%.
Happy Update: Feb 2017 marks SIX years since my mom's initial diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer.
So just because doctors give you six months, it doesn't make it true. But it hasn't been easy. During that time, we've had many downs and many ups. We've learned a lot as a family.
I've learned a lot as a caregiver.
And I put all of those lessons into this course so that it could possibly help you if you find yourself or family in similar circumstances.
I'm also gathering and documenting the best tips and advice from other individuals who just want to help out and share.
This course is a work in progress.
As I gather and learn more, I'll share them in this course.
Who is the course for?
The caregivers: It's for you if you find yourself (suddenly) thrust into the role of caring for a loved one who is facing serious or terminal illness and want strategies, tips, and best practices to help you give your best care.
The care receivers: It's for those of you who are receiving care from a loved one for your serious illness and want to better understand what they're going through and how you could best support their efforts in caring for you. Help them help you!
The care supporters: It's for those of you who are family, significant others, friends, or colleagues to a caregiver and want to know how best to support them.
What's not in the course?
Because every ones medical situation or illness is different and I am not a medical doctor, I will not be providing any medical advice (for good reason).
What I will provide are strategies, tips, tools, links to resources, and other daily practices that have helped me as a caregiver.
Why did you make this course?
So many things I know now that I wish I knew at the very beginning. I would have felt less lost, less overwhelmed, and less stressed. I would have been able to give my mom even better care.
So I hope I could help others who are at earlier stages of their own journeys.
But I'm still learning and looking for ways to do better. With your feedback, I'm sure I'll also learn from you new ways to improve the care that I could continue to give my mom.
Plus, it would really make my mom smile knowing that our experience might be helping others, even complete strangers.
Here my story and why I decided to create this course.
This course is for caregivers, care receivers, and care supporters.
Depending whether you're a caregiver, care receiver, or a care supporter, you may want to go through the course in different ways.
Before we dive in, I just want to take a quick moment to clarify on what this course is and isn't going to be about in order to set proper expectations.
Tell me where you're from, what role you're playing, and for whom are you taking this course?
Having a war chest of mental tools you can rely on a must.
Have a mantra to guide you on your caregiving journey.
The only place that matters is here and now.
What problems do you "get to have" in your life?
Most of your decision making on this journey will involve trade offs.
It's only natural to start looking up statistics on survival rates but here are some things you need to keep in mind first.
Find every reason to celebrate each day.
Ask for help and you may be surprised by what you receive in return.
When in doubt, put yourself in their shoes and ask "what would you want?"
If you found it useful, please share or consider leaving feedback. Also, if you have ideas or resources you think will be useful, please go to the lecture below titled "How Can I Help?"
Getting organized and having a game plan is a must.
Clearing your calendar can clear your mind of distractions so that you can focus on getting the best start for the important task at hand.
Of things, resources, and people who can be helpful in any way at all.
While the doctors will determine the course of treatment, you and your care receiver can play a very important role in making the body strong and healthy so that it can recover and/or tolerate treatments well.
Why you can't ignore a healthy mind and spirit on this tough but rewarding journey ahead.
When times are good, that is when you must build your cushion.
Clinical trials often have very strict criteria for inclusion and have narrow windows for application. Don't risk missing out on potentially promising studies.
Go to the Other Resources section for more on clinical trials.
How high can you make this ratio?
Having things to look forward to can focus the attention away from the disease and treatments and onto what truly makes life worth living.
Your use of language can set the entire mood of this journey. Use it carefully.
Look at the evidence and factor in any potential harm before you start on any complementary or alternative treatments. And definitely do not leave your doctor's in the dark.
Thoughts on what you can change in your environment.
You can't give your best care if you're not at your best.
Identify the leeches in your life--things and people that leech your time, energy, emotions, money, etc...from you. Be honest with yourself and cut off your leeches.
Make it easier on you, the doctors, and everyone else who may be involved by keeping a detailed calendar.
Why you must factor in your energy and not just your time.
My simple way to keep a healthy diet.
Find and utilize the wait times you have throughout the day to squeeze in a few sets of basic exercises--squats, pushups, planks, etc...
Get your 5+ minutes of meditation, mindfulness, doodling, whatever you call it--just get it.
Keep close to you anything that rejuvenates you, inspires you, and energizes you. Could be podcasts, quotes, friends, and even complete strangers online, apps for meditation/mindfulness, etc..
You must be selfish to some degree in order to be self less. Get your me time.
Know and understand the basics of what you're dealing with by doing your homework first to make it easier for the doctors.
Some tips and advice on finding good doctors.
Be nice to the nurses and receptionists!
You can't cover everything at one time--target the most urgent and pressing risks first.
Beware of contingencies and utilize opportunities to stack requests so you can minimize the delay in getting treatment.
Why you must be ready to follow up.
Preparation for doctors appointments.
Work with doctors to create a roadmap so if one thing doesn't work, you know what is next.
Care supporters, ask yourself this simple question.
Be more than "how can I help?"
Why "green lights" make it easier for everyone.
Care receivers, you do have a choice every day. Choose wisely.
Why you must initiate the tough talks.
Could health be declining but treatment still be helping? Yes. Why you need the right benchmarks.
No one knows more than you how precious and fragile life can be--do not squander what you still have. Savor every moment.
Have something you want to share with others? Let me know!
Intro to this section.
Some places to find inspiration.
Resources I found useful for finding medical information.
Resources for clinical trials.
List of my mood booster music--make your own!
Some tips on cane use.
Interview with special guest Dori Martini of kindlycare.com. Check out the great tips and resources for finding the right caregiver for you or your loved ones.
Here's the donation I made to Lung Cancer Alliance ($100) on 4/3/2017.
The course generated just $67 in revenues from 1/1/2017 to 3/31/2017. I've decided to keep it free as a result.
Hey, thanks for checking out my course.
I am a real estate and startup business consultant based out of Los Angeles CA.
I currently help startup founders and small business entrepreneurs build financial models and projections for their businesses and private real estate investors with their acquisitions analysis and deal structuring. Please message me directly for consulting requests.
Previously, I was Head of Marketing Analytics at the Panda Restaurant Group after first serving as a senior financial analyst leading real estate and new store underwriting efforts.
Prior to that, I worked on over $400M in commercial real estate investments at a private equity real estate fund. Before that, I worked as a manager of a global M&A unit for a Fortune 80 company.
I am also a cofounder of LearnAirbnb, a consultancy and research group specializing in the home-sharing economy.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude in Computer Engineering and Economics from UC Irvine and hold an MBA from Stanford University.