Karin was a registered nurse for 42 years. Most weeks, she worked more than 70 hours. She was also the mom of four beautiful girls.
Karin was thankful for all the good things in her life. However, everything changed when she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, which was located in her mouth. She began chemotherapy treatments right away. The treatments helped the cancer but they caused severe damage to Karin’s teeth, which all had to be pulled. She began having difficulty eating. Then, on her way to her daily treatment one day, she slipped, fell and shattered her knee. She had surgery and a metal ball was inserted in her knee but now Karin needed to use a wheelchair to get around.
All four of Karin’s daughters worked together to make sure their mom still got to her daily cancer treatments and checked on her frequently. Even her youngest daughter pitched in to help. This daughter, Ally, had epilepsy and had numerous seizures each day. Nonetheless, Ally would get up in the middle of the night to make sure Karin’s feeding tube was working correctly. Karin would monitor Ally through a camera in Ally’s bedroom. Both women worked hard to take care of one another.
One day Karin’s doctor announced that Karin was in remission. Finally, she could discontinue chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She was excited to think that perhaps her life could get “back to normal.” But “normal” just did not seem to be in the cards for Karin.
A week before Christmas she received a call to come to Colorado because her middle daughter had been in a skiing accident. Karin flew to Colorado immediately, where she learned that her daughter had been placed on life support. But there was no hope for recovery – Karin had to give permission to take her daughter off life support. She flew back home, heartbroken. Just a few days later she found Ally non-responsive in her bed. She’d had a seizure in the part of her brain that controlled her breathing and heartbeat. Ally had passed away during the night.
While Karin experienced physical improvement, the death of two of her daughters had left her emotionally numb. She was dealing with depression, along with the toll the cancer and the knee replacement had taken on her body. Karin knew she needed to go back to work but she also knew there was no way she was going to be able to return to her nursing career. She had no idea what her next step should be.
Karin heard that Goodwill hired people with disabilities. She had never been to Goodwill but she decided to see if a job there could help her ease back into employment. A week later, she was hired as a part-time cashier. She really liked the fact that this job also came with a GoodPartner Coach. She told her coach that she is grateful for her job at Goodwill. It’s what gets her up in the morning and gets her out of the house where she can interact with the public and the wonderful people she works with.
Karin feels like she has become part of the Goodwill family. She knows that her grieving process will take time and eventually she will find her “new normal.” In the meantime, Karin is glad she has a place to go where she is accepted and feels like she can make a contribution. She’s glad that her Goodwill family is helping her move forward with the healing process. It’s what we do …