Staying Strong as a Caregiver: Navigating Work and Grief in a Pandemic

Written by: Courtney Benisch – Regional Relationship Coordinator for Head for the Cure

This year has been nothing but a roller coaster, and as a caregiver, I cannot even imagine what it is like watching your loved one who is battling brain cancer go through it as well. The pandemic has not only affected treatments, surgeries, and general doctor’s appointments, but it has also added another layer of stress for your loved one and the rest of your family.

Supporting Brain Tumor Patients in a Pandemic

Now more than ever, patients and caregivers may be turning to the internet for information about a brain tumor diagnosis. With limited in-person interaction at hospitals and the increase in telehealth appointments, it can all be a bit overwhelming knowing where to turn for help. Talking with your doctors and nurses is incredibly important but using a website like Brains for the Cure could be a bit more comforting with its inclusion of stories from patients, caregivers, and doctors.

Changes at Work

One thing it has affected me personally and professionally is our amazing 5K events. When I started working for the foundation back in 2018, I had already had two years of supporting Head for the Cure under my belt as a participant. However, being able to help others even more by planning our incredible 5K events made it even more special. Going into 2020 I was excited to see the amazing survivors, strong caregivers, and supporters in the various cities I work with. Everyone has such a special place in my heart and not being able to hug them all stinks!

When COVID-19 hit, my world came to a halt, as it did the rest of the world. Personally, I have been working remotely for over a year now so being at home 24/7 wasn’t something new to me. However, it was the heavy news cycle, not being able to go out and get some fresh air when needed, and general blanket of anxiety that set in. At Head for the Cure, we now had to figure out how to hold our monumental 5K events and fundraisers in a way we have never done before. It has been hard work, but so inspiring at the same time.

Moving our physical events to online events has been a whirlwind experience because we want to make sure all of our aspects of our physical 5K events for every single city is shown online. The biggest thing for me about the transition was “how are we going to honor survivors and caregivers still?” I think we have figured out not only how to do both of those things, and even more now. I’m so thankful we get to honor and celebrate everyone in such a different way.

Honoring My Mom Virtually

Courtney, friends, and family honoring her mom’s memory with Team ekSTRONG at the Head for the Cure – Metro KC 5K in 2018.

Now that my hometown event is coming up in August, it has me thinking how I want to honor my mom in our virtual event. There are so many options! If you haven’t had the chance to watch one of our virtual events, you can find them here. You get to see so many more aspects of what Head for the Cure does on “race day” and I am excited to get brainstorming with my family. Here are some of our ideas so far:

  • Record a testimonial with my brother and stepdad via Zoom
  • Ask family and friends to send me their testimonials about why they support Head for the Cure
  • Create a short video from photos of past events to include in the Wall of Hope slideshow
  • Send in my mom’s favorite quote or memory of her for the Celebration of Life video

How will you get involved in our virtual events? Learn more at headforthecure.org.

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