Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease. It randomly strips an individual’s identity piece by piece; small nearly unnoticeable slices one day and large overwhelming chunks on other days…but the one constant is that the disease is tireless and does not stop.
Our Mom, JoAnne, was an individual so full of life. Her warmth could be felt immediately and her zest for laughter was contagious. She was also a fighter. Having endured a traumatic childhood; devastating abuse, being separated from her siblings and growing up in foster homes, our Mom fought hard to persevere. Her suffering only fueled her empathy and compassion. She eventually found the love of her life, my Dad, and together they were on a mission to change the course of their past and fight to create the best family possible and start a new legacy. Together, they won that fight.
She believed that those in need always deserved a caring ear and a loving heart. During her career, she worked as a social worker that cared for geriatric patients, more specifically, elderly patients with Alzheimer’s and other terminal illnesses. As a kid, I can remember her telling us how dismal the availability was for compassionate care and sharing with us her heartbreak for these people. She made us promise her multiple times, to say it out loud, to never ever put her in ‘a home’. To her, Alzheimer’s and terminal Cancer were bone chilling words; conditions that no person should have to endure because of what it meant for their final chapters.
Sadly, years later my mom faced her final fight, a giant that she feared much of her life and an enemy that she equipped others to fight when they could not do so alone. In early 2016, she was diagnosed with earth shattering news that she had Alzheimer’s. It was heartbreaking to watch my mom fight to keep her identity, while each day that passed she was stripped of more. The hard days in the beginning were the days that we had to retell a story or reexplain the rules of our favorite family games. The best days toward the end, were the days that she looked us straight in the eye and said ‘I love you’…and we knew it was our mom was in there and she was still fighting to protect her kids. Her identity and strength to persevere weakened as time passed, but she was still determined to fight and function on her own with the help of her family and partner, Chuck. Not able to take our mom down alone, her opponent called for help. Earlier this year, her final blow was delivered…she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bone Cancer that caused excruciating pain. The radiation and chemo succeeded in weakening my mom fully and what seemed to be an overnight occurrence, my mom’s condition quickly deteriorated and my mom was fully at the mercy of both diseases.
They say it takes a village, and my mom was so blessed to have her family rally around her. Her partner Chuck, my amazing sisters Vickie and Kathy, my brother Nick, and my Aunt Jane all rushed to her corner as her needs grew greater. We all felt the gut-wrenching burden of upholding our promise to never ever put my mom in ‘a home’. With exhausted arms that held her and defeated hearts, we finally succumbed to the necessity to seek out more care for our ailing mom.
An individual with a terminal illness or progressive Alzheimer’s requires so much attentive and compassionate care, yet it was crushing to see so little of it available. Our mom’s final weeks were blessed with the most amazing care that upheld her dignity and allowed for a graceful exit from her grips on this earth and physical position as our mom. Hospice House in Tacoma showed our family so much compassion to our needs and feelings and showered our mom with the sincerest outpouring of care we could have ever asked for. Our mom’s passing will be forever remembered knowing that her medical care likened the care of her own family.
Great care, however, is not cheap. There is a HUGE gap in our healthcare system that does not prioritize our ailing elderly, and it is saddening. At a cost of $400 – over $700 per day, it is not shocking to hear about how many families simply cannot afford quality care for their ailing loved ones. As a family, we would like to ask for your help to continue our mom’s fight by financially aiding those individuals that deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity and relieve those families that are fighting so hard to hold themselves together while their loved ones face their final chapter.
My second family, Caliber Real Estate, has generously agreed match all contributions up to $10,000 to aid in my family’s fight to ensure great care for others. All proceeds will be donated to a local charity foundation of the family’s choice.
Thank you everyone for your continued support!
- Steve & Cathy Stockman
- Angela Khun
- The Lam Family
- Brian Buskirk
- Marzena Dixon
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