From diagnosis to end-of-life care: Scott Schlegel’s journey as a family caregiver

By Alison Klein
November 20, 2019
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A family caregiver is anyone—family member, friend or neighbor—who provides any type of physical and/or emotional care for an ill or disabled loved one at home. There are currently more than 40 million caregivers in America. Throughout the month of November, we’re highlighting their stories in honor of National Caregivers Month.

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, our thoughts pivot toward the new patient and their well-being: How will they cope? What are the best steps for treatment? What life changes are in store? These are critical questions, and they apply just as much to those who provide care and support for the patient.

Scott Schlegel, a member of Regence’s personalized care support team, recently shared his experience caring for his father-in-law who had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

“We were at a loss for what to do. I hadn’t dealt with that part of my caregiving journey yet...the very end stages.”  Schlegel’s father-in-law passed away just six months from the day he was diagnosed.  That offered little time for Schlegel and his family to spend with him—much less worry about things like paperwork and advance care directives.

“Have the tough conversations early on,” he advises. “Get their wishes, their wants,” to help make the most of your time together with a loved one.

Listen to the conversation below:

Where can caregivers turn for support?

Regence's Palliative Care program provides personalized support for people facing serious illness or injury and extends an extra layer of support for family caregivers.

If you have become a family caregiver, start by calling the Case Management Intake line at 1 (866) 543-5765.

Other valuable caregiver resources include:

AARP Resources for caregivers and their families
CareLibrary Palliative Care Database
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization