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Caregiver Story: Bunnie Schwartz

When I was 35 years old my sister was 45. She was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. She was married and had three children. We spent just under two years looking after her as she underwent two surgeries and many chemotherapies. We travelled to New York for a second opinion and went to Texas for experimental treatment for 6 weeks.

She was bed ridden and it was a very difficult experience. During that time I helped look after her children while looking after my own three kids. Unfortunately, the cancer did not respond to treatment and she was very ill and in constant pain. We would lie in bed together telling stories and reminiscing about our time together. Then I would race home to be there for my children. Luckily I had good friends to help me take care of them.

Sadly, my sister passed away at the age of 47 and I miss her every day. Though being a caregiver is a tough job, I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

When you are 37 years old with three kids and helping your brother-in-law raise his three children it’s a busy life. The last thing you expect is for your husband to get diagnosed at the age of 39 with stage 4 Colorectal Cancer. Howard, my husband was a fighter and we went through four surgeries and various chemotherapies and radiation. At this time I was working to keep money flowing in to pay the bills since he could only work the odd day.

I took him to Princess Margaret Hospital for his regular checkups and chemotherapy treatments. The chemotherapy had a terrible effect on him. I had to pack a lunch and snacks for him as most food and smells made him sick to his stomach. Before I left the house I made sure that the children’s meals were all set up because many times we got home very late from the hospital. Once everyone was settled I started tidying up and doing the laundry and getting organized for the next day before I went to sleep. So many nights Howard and I were up late as the chemotherapy made him so sick. I stayed with him in the bathroom until he settled down. I always got up early to feed my kids and send them off to school. This schedule went on for 7 years until there were no treatments left to try. At the end, Howard wanted to be home with his family.

Sadly, at the young age of 46, he passed away at home just like he wanted to. Howard was the love of my life and I think about him all the time. Being the caregiver was the only thing I could do for him. Now, when I look back at what I did I know I wouldn’t have changed anything.

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