Author Katherine Crawford fought all odds to keep her husband alive. Crawford says cancer was killing her husband, but anxiety took its toll on her, the caregiver, desperate she changed her nickname from Kathy to Kat. “I needed to develop a stronger fortitude or I’d never make it—I had to find courage. That’s when I renamed myself the Lionhearted Kat and became a champion of caregivers.”
Crawford says when she couldn’t find a survival guide, she wrote one.
In December 2002 Kat Crawford sat stunned when an oncologist said, “Sorry. There is nothing we can do for your husband.” When she asked for a time frame the oncologist said, “Gary may live three days, three weeks, three months—we don’t know. We don’t know of any treatment—not even a clinical trial.”
Still alive a month after his diagnosis, Gary’s primary care physician begged him not to give up. “Seek another opinion before you have need.” That was Friday. On Sunday, Gary’s abdomen had filled. He looked nine months pregnant and struggled for every breath. Forced to find help, Kat spent hours calling hospitals. One PA said he doubted they could do anything for Gary and before he hung up he said, “Good luck.” Kat masked her anger and kept calling. Later she rushed Gary to a hospital where a second battery of oncologists. They concurred with the first prognosis. The oncologist said, “If cancer doesn’t kill him the depression will.” He suggested she take family medical leave because, “You won’t have him long.”
Capsules of Hope: Survival Guide for Caregivers (ISBN: 9780578014524) is more than a memoir. It is resource of thirty-one capsules—stories from other caregivers and mental health professionals, each one topped off with survival tidbits. The book offers twenty-two pages of practical advice from a lawyer, an insurance specialist and information Kat gleaned in the trenches. She addresses questions such as:
- How do we find the right doctor?
- What medical notes do we need to carry?
- What about the insurance?
- What about Advanced Directives?
The forward for Capsules of Hope is written by Dr. Brian Loggie a specialist in Gary’s rare cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP), a cancer originating in the appendix. Because of a newspaper article and the internet, Kat eventually found Dr. Loggie only four miles from their home. The good news is, Gary’s alive and the Crawford’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in February 2009.
“Since PMP and other orphan diseases are confusing for many physicians, then how much more difficult it is for patients and their Caregivers to muddle through layers of information and misinformation….with Kat at his side, Gary was able to fight back quite literally from the brink of death. He is hale and hearty more than five years later. On the rare occasions he visits me, I tell ‘the old curmudgeon’ he should be our poster person,” said Dr. Loggie.