|Video segments: The Many Faces and Challenges of Caregivers|
Sam Donaldson, ABC News veteran and Chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Foundation Board of Directors, moderated a roundtable of notable panelists, including clinicans and celebrities such as former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher; Priscilla Mack, wife of Senator Connie Mack; Charlie "Chaz" Ebert, wife of famed film critic Roger Ebert; Jai Pausch, whose husband Randy wrote the acclaimed bestseller The Last Lecture; and Liz Scott, mother of Alex's Lemonade Stand founder Alex Scott—all cancer caregivers and/or cancer survivors themselves—on the many faces of caregivers and the challenges of caring for loved ones with cancer at the NCCN Annual Conference. Watch in 8-15 minute segments (see descriptions below), watch the entire video, or read the recap.
The Many Faces and Challenges of Caregivers
Becoming a cancer caregiver, part 1: In this clip, Sam Donaldson discusses his wife's role as caregiver in his battle with melanoma and introduces the first members of the panel: former Pittsburgh Steelers football coach Bill Cowher describes the shock of his wife's diagnosis of lung cancer and the difficulty of telling her, and Suzanne Daulerio, daughter of long-time NCCN employee Pat Daulerio, discusses “going into research mode” on hearing that her mother had non-small cell lung cancer with brain metastases.
Becoming a cancer caregiver, part 2: Chaz Ebert, wife of famed film critic Roger Ebert, talks about their initial optimism when facing his diagnosis of thyroid cancer after an earlier bout of salivary gland cancer. Priscilla Mack, wife of Senator Connie Mack and a breast cancer survivor, talks about the "absolute terror" of discovering that her husband had melanoma after his brother had died of it. Jai Pausch, wife of the late Randy Pausch, acclaimed Carnegie-Mellon professor and author of internationally best-selling book, The Last Lecture, describes thinking "I don't know how I'm going to make it" when contemplating life with 3 young children without her husband.
Becoming a cancer caregiver, part 3: Mary Beth Reardon, RN, MSN, an oncology nurse for 35 years, discusses the emotional aspects of caregiving and that even she was challenged by helping a very close friend with cancer make the right decisions about care. Liz Scott, mother of Alex's Lemonade Stand founder Alex Scott, who raised a million dollars to benefit childhood cancer research before she died at age 8, describes feeling like she would "completely lose control" on learning her then 9-month-old daughter had cancer.
Becoming a cancer caregiver, part 4: Sam Silver, MD, Director of the University of Michigan Cancer Center Network, describes the irony of helping diagnose his own lymphoma while serving as the Head of the Bone Marrow Transplant department. Jill Ellen Snow, wife of the late Tony Snow, President George W. Bush's press secretary, talks about the challenges of trying to protect their children from speculation in the media after her husband's diagnosis of colon cancer.
How do you help a loved one with cancer: Panelists answer the question "what did your loved one need from you?" Bill Cowher talks about understanding that the percentages were "not good" but also realizing that his wife looked to him for reassurance. Chaz Ebert movingly desribes having to tell husband Roger Ebert that he might never speak or eat again and reassuring him that she would "find a way to make life interesting" when he lost hope. Jai Pausch also recounts her husband asking if she would help "speed things along" if his condition became too difficult and notes that this question is something many caregivers face and are unprepared for.
Talking to children about cancer: Jill Ellen Snow talks about balancing honesty with optimism when talking with her children about her husband's prognosis. Liz Scott notes the differences in talking to a child with cancer, because they live with the disease and see it affect their friends with cancer, and the challenges of talking to Alex's siblings about it. Jai Pausch talks about taking cues from her children about when and what they were ready to hear.
Facing end of life decisions: Suzanne Daulerio talks about the sadness of waiting too long to talk about end of life decisions with her mother. Bill Cowher notes the added difficulty of talking about decision-making with his wife, who also had atypical Alzheimer's, and that his focus became "quality of life" and allowing his children quality time with their mother as well as having to face that despite his career success and strong belief in the power of positive attitudes, he also needed help.
"One day at a time": Priscilla Mack talks about facing multiple cancers in her family, including her own bout with breast cancer and working to overcome her own fear of loss to help her husband, Senator Connie Mack when he was diagnosed with melanoma.
Balancing optimism and reality: Dr. Sam Silver talks about what professional oncologists owe patients and caregivers when talking about prognosis. Mary Beth Reardon notes that well-intentioned physicians can sometimes give misleading information, and Jill Ellen Snow talks about taking cues from the nurses. Bill Cowher adds that caregivers need to know the reality because they need to help prepare family and friends, and Chaz Ebert agrees, and adds that even when the prognosis is good, caregivers need to be prepared for the “marathon” of cancer care.
Help for caregivers from physicians and nurses: Responding to questions from the audience, the panel agrees that it's important for professional health care providers to talk to caregivers honestly. Jai Pausch also notes the importance of realizing that caregivers without medical training are often asked to perform medical tasks for their loved ones. Finally, Sam Donaldson talks briefly about medicine in politics and the questions society must ask itself about caring for cancer patients.
Sam Donaldson, ABC News veteran and anchor, and Chair of the NCCN Foundation Board of Directors, who survived stage III melanoma
Bill Cowher, analyst on The NFL Today and former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose wife Kaye recently died from melanoma
Suzanne Daulerio, daughter of the late Pat Daulerio, a long-time employee of NCCN
Jai Pausch, wife of the late Randy Pausch, acclaimed Carnegie Mellon University professor and author of The Last Lecture, written when he was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer
Charlie "Chaz" Ebert, wife of Roger Ebert, who has been treated for salivary gland cancer, and Executive Producer of Ebert Presents at the Movies
Priscilla Mack, breast cancer survivor and wife of Senator Connie Mack, who has lived with malignant melanoma
Mary Beth Reardon, RN, MS, Vice President of Patient Care Services at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa Bay, Florida
Liz Scott, mother of the late Alex Scott, founder of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, who died from neuroblastoma
Samuel M. Silver, MD, PhD, Director of the University of Michigan Cancer Center Network, Ann Arbor, and a survivor of lymphoma
Jill Ellen Snow, wife of the late Tony Snow, former White House Press Secretary, who died of colon cancer