Diane Tkalec – What I learned from being a caregiver

As the holidays approach, we’re often inclined to look back on the past year. What were the highlights? What are we thankful for? What do we want for the coming year? We asked members of the ALS community to share their thoughts about the year drawing to a close.

It would be misleading to say that my daughter and I have fully recovered following the experience of losing my 49 year old husband to ALS, in 2007.

He was such a charismatic and devoted man, whose passion as a fertility specialist was to help create families and new life; and so to witness the disease progressively take away his own, was one of the most difficult things we have ever had to experience.

After his passing, I inherited the new role of becoming a widowed single mother to my six year old daughter. We were both struck by an overwhelming sadness.

Fortunately, we were well surrounded. With ongoing support and a little bit of time, we were able to get through this life-changing challenge with resilience and a great motivation to help other families who were living a similar reality.

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I can tell you that being actively involved in a variety of initiatives at the ALS Society of Quebec over the past ten years has provided me with meaningful opportunities to help make positive changes for families living with ALS. Thanks to your generous donations, there have been amazing strides of progress in the services offered to caregivers, including the new “Taking Care’” virtual learning environment, which contains a wide range of specialized information resources available online and on demand.

As a former caregiver, supporting my husband and child through a very difficult period and losing a loved one to ALS taught me that it takes a village to survive and thrive in the face of ALS. It also taught me that in order to weather the storm, you need to get informed, accept help where it’s available, and recharge your batteries often to maintain your wellness and balance. I made the decision to turn adversity into opportunity, to embrace the wisdom of the past, and to prepare for a future where caregivers and families touched by ALS are surrounded by a strong, united community.

I know what it feels like to have your world turned upside down by a diagnosis of ALS. By donating to ALS Quebec, you help caregivers to stay afloat, whether it be talking with an attentive psychosocial counsellor, or accessing specialized information when the timing is right in their caregiver journey.

My daughter, Morgan, is 17 now. She’s got a bright future ahead of her, and I’m so proud of the young woman she’s becoming. As for me, whenever I think about all the precious memories over the years, or about the concrete progress that has been made to better support families touched by ALS, it brings on a smile. These feelings and reflections will remain forever etched in my heart.

On behalf of all caregivers, thank you for your generosity.

Diane Tkalec
Montreal, former caregiver and volunteer

Your donation to ALS Quebec will provide caregivers with immediate:
  • psychosocial support and an information and referral service;
  • financial support for special needs;
  • access to respite programs to give caregivers and ALS patients a breather;
  • financial assistance for extracurricular activities for their children under age 18;
  • social activities and support groups to create bonds;
  • hope that researchers will find a cure.
During this holiday season, make a donation to ALS Quebec and give twice as much support to caregivers as your gift will be matched!
All gifts received before December 31st, 2018 will be matched by The Tenaquip Foundation up until $50,000.

 

Anne Edimo