When Stormy, age 8, was in kindergarten, her teachers started sending her home from school frequently for vomiting and losing her balance. After a couple doctor visits, the family was told to wait and see what happens. When her situation didn’t improve, her great-grandparents took the lead and arranged for a doctor visit at a local Children’s Hospital. Soon afterwards, Stormy was diagnosed with an amelablastoma, or brain tumor. She’d had it for 6 months.
Stormy’s father had passed away about a year before, and her mother was uninvolved in her life, so Stormy’s great-grandparents, Phyllis and Bobby Poston stepped up to the plate and took the lead. “We never even thought about it…about the work, the exhaustion, the time involved. Plus, her father would’ve wanted it this way.” So, with 6 children, 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, the Poston’s became Stormy’s primary caregivers.
The Poston’s met Lucretia Young, AARP State Director for Delaware, during a Day of Service project at Wilmington’s Ronald McDonald House. The Poston’s have spent the past two years living at the House for weeks at a time during Stormy’s treatments, including a recent bone marrow and stem cell transplant.
Without the strong support she’s been getting, she would’ve never progressed to her current state. Doctors say she’s doing well. And, for the first time in months, she is able to walk on her own with the use of a walker. She enjoys arts and crafts. Doctors are amazed at how well she’s pulled through.
The fact that close families stick together is at the heart of caregiving. However, Phyllis always thanks the team of nurses, physical therapists, and friends at the Ronald McDonald House for their help along the way. They have become part of the family for her as well. She feels for the many children with no or little or no support. In an effort to help, the Poston’s have become advocates for cancer awareness. Each year, they help out with a fashion show put on by the Oncology Dept. at the hospital to raise funds. In fact, Stormy has modeled in the show.
“I don’t think much about respite,” says Phyllis. “But God keeps me going, and the occasional television show or book to help me relax.” The Poston’s also take walks, sometimes with Stormy if she’s up for it.
“I hope we see her cancer-free someday. Until then, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing to make sure she keeps going.”
Share your caregiving story at www.iheartcaregivers.com. Find helptul AARP Caregiving resources at www.aarp.org/caregiving.