There is so much more to Gillian Curry-Williams than the titles wife, mother, grandmother, daughter – fashion designer. She has also found herself on more than one occasion, assuming the role of caregiver, and now she adds author to the mix, having penned her first book “Beyond Diagnosis: A Caregiver’s Journey” in which she shares her journey as a caregiver.
Curry-Williams, who holds steadfast to the words of Rosalyn Carter that there are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver – in her still young life, has found herself in the caregiver’s role three times – the first time to her aunt Bessie Ellen Moss, at a time when she said she did not even know what the word “caregiver” meant; then to her dad Donald Curry, and most recently, a friend Samantha Rahming – who all battled with cancer.
In “Beyond Diagnosis: A Caregiver’s Journey”, Curry-Williams explores her world as a caregiver and takes the reader through her trials and tribulation.
“No one can fully capture, nor describe what patients go through, especially when they suffer long-term illnesses. At some point, though, we have to change the narrative of care beyond diagnosis and treatment,” said Curry-Williams. “Since there is no definitive method for caring for loved ones during these times, our love has to be the biggest potential to transform their lives.”
Curry-Williams said her book is her personal attempt to go beyond the diagnosis and share her journey as a caregiver and an effort to change the perspective of caregiving.
“I was a caregiver and didn’t know the meaning of the word. I was like ‘this was my aunt’.”
Her book also includes the views of loved ones who suffered from debilitating illnesses to ensure that people understand that beyond the diagnosis, are human beings capable of, and in need of, being loved and treated with the dignity and respect that every human being deserves.
She hopes that by reading her book, people take away the fact that not everyone is called to be a caregiver and that they can take solace in that and not beat themselves up when they find they can’t step into the role, which she said is definitely not an easy one.
“Everyone is not called to be a caregiver and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t try to force being a caregiver. Everybody’s role is different.”
Looking back at the role she played as caregiver for her dad, her aunt and her friend, she said each was a different experience, but she felt the caregiving role she played for her aunt encompassed the experiences of the other two.
In her book, she said, a person does not become a caregiver overnight and that there are certain qualities that a caregiver must possess, or at least develop.
Since family caregivers may often have no formal training or background in the medical field, Curry-Williams said they will have to call on internal skills to perform. In the book, she speaks to having to enhance skills to perform adequately as a caregiver to her loved ones.
The qualities that worked for her, she said, included patience and flexibility, passion, and ability to be attentive as she said the patient’s needs comes first. Also, ability to communicate, be creative and innovative, supportive and encouraging, honesty and trustworthiness, and having a sense of humor.
While Curry-Williams found that her list worked for her, she said others may need to add additional qualities to their list, according to their own experience.
“Beyond Diagnosis: A Caregiver’s Journey” is available at Café Channing Noelle and can be purchased by calling Curry-Williams at 818-9764.