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Life After Diagnosis: Sarah Cart's Guide for Caregivers

Unexpectedly, becoming a caregiver for a loved one can be a huge and draining experience. You want to do everything you can to help your ailing loved one, but you can quickly become utterly exhausted, running on fumes, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Sarah Cart, journalist, wife, and mother of four, shared this reality on the Lean to the Left podcast, recounting her experience of becoming her husband's caregiver during a catastrophic illness. She offers sound advice, based on her experience, for those who unexpectedly become caregivers for loved one. Hers is truly a story of life after diagnosis.

Sarah Cart book

Embracing a New Role

 Sarah's life changed dramatically when her husband, Ben, needed an immediate heart transplant. In her new memoir, On My Way Back to You, she shares their journey through illness to healing and hope.

Sarah became one of the 39 million Americans caring for an ailing loved one, navigating this demanding role while keeping her own head above water.


Initial Signs and Diagnosis

 The journey began subtly. At a family wedding, Sarah noticed Ben was whistling differently—something he always did one-handed was now a two-handed effort due to swollen fingers.

A subsequent doctor's visit led to a diagnosis of an odd autoimmune issue, which seemed manageable until Ben was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. "All of a sudden, we knew we were in the big leagues," Sarah recalled.


The Impact of COVID-19

 Remarkably, Sarah believes the COVID-19 lockdown saved Ben's life, as hospital systems focused on the most urgent cases, indirectly facilitating his transplant.

Ben's condition worsened, requiring stabilization in an ICU and eventually leading to a life-saving transplant amid the pandemic's constraints.


The Road to Recovery

 Ben, an entrepreneur by trade, had to manage his condition alongside the business he co-founded, eventually retiring due to disability.

Sarah coped through writing and meditation, finding strength in unexpected places. Despite the isolation imposed by the pandemic, their community found ways to support them, from providing dinners to sharing words of encouragement.


Advice for Caregivers

 Sarah urges caregivers to be open and vulnerable, to accept help graciously, and to be kind to themselves. The journey is tough, and perfection in caregiving is an unrealistic expectation, she cautions.

Her practical advice includes staying truthful about one’s situation to avoid having to retract statements as circumstances evolve. Importantly, she emphasizes finding moments of joy and practicing self-care. For more on this, please listen or watch this remarkable interview.


The Power of Community and Today's Connectivity


Modern technology, especially Zoom, allowed Sarah to stay connected with her family and friends despite the physical distance imposed by COVID-19.

She reconnected with old friends and found solace in shared experiences, realizing that while everyone was facing the pandemic, many were also dealing with personal challenges.


Moving Forward: Life After Diagnosis

 Sarah concludes with a message of gratitude and resilience. She emphasizes that gratitude can be found even in the smallest things and reminds us that miracles may come in unexpected forms.

Her positive affirmations, such as praising herself and Ben for their strength, played a crucial role in maintaining her mental health.


Encouraging Organ Donation

 As they navigated their crisis, the act of organ donation became profoundly personal. Sarah encourages everyone to consider becoming organ donors, sharing how a single family's generosity during their darkest hours can result in a miracle for so many others.


Sarah Cart's journey offers valuable lessons in love, resilience, and the importance of community support. Her story on the Lean to the Left podcast is a testament to human strength and the transformational power of hope and generosity.


For those inspired by Sarah’s story, her memoir On My Way Back to You provides a life-saving primer on caregiving, offering insights and advice for anyone suddenly finding themselves in a caregiver role.

Listen to the podcast:

View the interview:

Read the Transcript:

Sarah Cart_ Catastrophic Illness to Healing and Hope
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