Category Archives: Spirituality

‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio

On Tuesday’s ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ show, we had a wonderful conversation with Fr. J. Lawrence Richardt from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis where we discussed how Spirituality can play a role in being a healthy caregiver.   Approaching his 50th anniversary of his ordination, Fr. Larry has been a caregiver for his mother for the past seven years in Indiana.

During our conversation we talked about:

  • How being present to others is important in ministry and in Caregiving…
  • The importance of being anchored to a larger world outside of Caregiving…
  • How Scripture and Spiritual Direction helps keep me  (us) honest…
  • How we laugh and find beauty during those dog days of caregiving…

To listen to our conversation on Blog Talk Radio, please click here.


Join us next Tuesday at 1:00pm (est)for another episode of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio for a discussion with Attorney’s Ryan Shaughnessy and Michelle Silies as we discuss the importance of having your legal documents in order.  For the link to next week show you can click here


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Be A Healthy Caregiver on Blog Talk Radio

Today on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on  Blog Talk Radio, we had a great conversation with Nancy Allegrezza, RN, Director of Marketing with Telikin Computers.  Telikin is the easy to use, all in one, touchscreen computer designed with seniors in mind. Some seniors have never become familiar with computer technology and may be intimidated by it.  Telikin helps reduce those fears. To listen to our show, click here. (Please pardon the technological problems at the start of the show)

For information on how to purchase a Telikin Computer, please click the icon below.

Join us next Tuesday, November 20th  at 1:00pm (est) for another session on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ with our guest, Fr. Larry Richardt who is a retired Catholic Priest and Spiritual Director  who also acts as a caregiver for his 95-year-old mother.  Our conversation will focus on how developing a healthy spirituality can play  an important role in being a Healthy Caregiver.   Our November 20th show can be accessed by clicking here.

You see…We Might have Cancer, but Cancer Does Not have us! 

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What A Difference A Year Makes

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. Helen Keller
It was just one year ago that ‘The Little One‘ started his chemo and radiation treatments.  I remember one of my early blog posts during that first week of treatments entitled;  I’m Radioactive!  where ‘The Little One’ said ” I don’t care what you put into my body as long as it is going to help me beat this cancer.”

We learned that the first week of treatments is usually the easiest; we also learned six weeks later just how difficult chemotherapy was for  ‘The Little One.’  What they put in his body was dreadful, yet it helped stop the spread of his cancer cells. Now a year removed from the start of his treatments,  ‘The Little One’ still has his ups and downs, his good days and his bad days; we are enjoying life in the moment!   According to the American Cancer Society “Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen to any particular person.”  (“Survival rates for,” 01).

“The Little One” was fortunate that the cancer was local and had not  metastasized. We live life in the moment, enjoying each day as an extended stay, not worried about tomorrow. Given three to four months  to live, ‘The Little One” has far exceeded anyone’s expectations (except ours!).  In 6 weeks, we will be one year past that diagnosis! He has already beaten the first survival rate indicated by the American Cancer Society which is quite an accomplishment for someone of his age.

Through our Caregiving journey we have  learned the meaning of true friends, and what is important in life.  While each one of us deals with the reality of cancer in a different way, each one of us wants to look on the bright side of life. Yesterday is gone, today is here, not sure about tomorrow. It is our hope that lets us withstand problems; it is our beliefs that let us find solutions.

Phase II of our Caregiving journey starts this September as I will be learning  a new chapter in my life;  How to take care of me!   Sounds selfish, but it is the reality that I must face.  Each one of us deals with stress in different ways.  I dealt with the stress of this past year by over eating and over thinking.  I thought I had it under control, but I was in too much control. In many ways, I am better at taking care of others than taking care of myself.  That is a paradox and may be a bit overstated, but that is my reality at the moment. Thankfully I am in a place to deal with it and fix it.

Caregivers are so focused on taking care of their loved one (caree), that we as caregivers often lose sight of self.  To be a healthy caregiver, we do not have to surrender our individuality, we have to  celebrate it!  

What are the (my)  keys to being a Healthy Caregiver?

  • Health < Healthy Caregiving Starts With You!
  • <  Eat Healthy
  • A Achieve Your Personal Goals
  • L Live, Love and Laugh 
  • < Take Time for Yourself
  • H < Heal Your Soul 
  • < Yearn To Care For Yourself As You Care For Others

Checking in at 250 lbs on September 1, 2012 means that I have gained 25 lbs since arriving in Florida in March and have put on almost half the weight I lost 10 years ago.  There is no blame to go around, just a stark reality of a life lesson learned.  The Helen Keller statement is so true! “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

A lesson learned is just shelf-life if the lesson is not put into practice! 

In order to be a Healthy Caregiver, I have no choice but to take better care of myself.  There is no better way than to own it, realize it and blog about it.  As The Bow Tie Guy transforms into The Healthy Caregiver;  the lesson that  I have learned is that I have to practice what I preach.   As a proponent of a holistic life of body, mind and spirit, I must apply those principles to myself, too…DUH!

What good am I to myself and the one I care for if I allow my  health  to fail?   

I hope you will continue to join us on our new Caregiving journey!


…We might have Cancer; but Cancer does not have US! 

 Survival rates for esophagus cancer. (01, 2012 11). Retrieved from


Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, Esophagus Cancer, Gay Caregiving, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Seniors, Spirituality, Unconditional Love

On Borrowed Time?


I decided to try something different this evening with my blog post… I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking to post my blog this evening.  I have come to the realization that I am much better at speaking than I am at typing: this just might be a better way for me to communicate my thoughts, feelings and emotions as I moved forward with ‘The Purple Jacket.”  So far so good!

Jewish Halo

This past week,  The Little One had his appointment with the oncologist. What was amazing about this appointment was that I did not feel the need, nor did I have the time to go to the appointment with him.   Now the ‘Mother Hen’ in me worried all morning about the whereabouts of “The Little One” yet  I knew deep down inside me that could handle the oncologist, handle the drive down to the office and be independent.  He did not get to be 81 without some form of independence!

Just as is the primary care doctor was encouraged at his progress, so was the oncologist.  It just so happens that the oncologist and the primary care doctor share the same office space;  this convenient for sharing information between staff and doctors.  The other benefit of this location in that the chemotherapy treatments is on the site, too! This  setup has made easier, not only for “The Little One”, but for all the patients that these physicians see on a regular basis.

The oncologist continued to spread good cheer,  good health and well-being for “The Little One.”  As I mentioned in my last blog post, the oncologist had projected 3 or 4 months to live after the initial diagnosis and subsequent treatments.  While he is pleased to be proven wrong, statistically speaking, the cure rate for esophageal cancer is one of the lowest there is.  If we are going solely by the book, then 3 to 4 months is correct.

It is understandable why a diagnosis like this would be attached to such a short lifespan.  That being said,  we forged ahead mindful of the pitfalls, yet striving for the best possible results.  We never want to rule out hope!

 I guess what amazes me the most about this visit to the oncologist is not the fact that we all recognize that the little one has far exceeded anyone’s expectations; it’s why is the doctor felt like he has to end this positive visit with the words…”You know you’re on borrowed time!”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Granted I was not there for this conversation, and I have no reason to doubt what “The Little One” has told me in regards to this conversation.  Yet, I am not sure what the purpose of comments like this does for a patient, for a caregiver or for the physician themselves?  Throughout this whole ordeal, we have taken a positive approach to dealing with the effects of cancer. We could sulked, we could  have  played the blame game, we could have gone into denial… However, what good would that have done for either one of us?  That’s just like saying…”you know we’re on borrowed time.”  

I do not claim to be a doctor, I do not claim to be a clinician, but I do believe that I understand how a positive outlook and healthy communication  can have a soothing and  healing effect on the mind, on the body, and of the spirit when dealing with critical health issues.  When you think about it,  we are all on borrowed time, yet does a cancer patient really need to be reminded of that?

Photo Credit: Pinterst

The healing power of body, mind and spirit plays such an important role in overcoming physical (and mental) illness.   To use a sports metaphor, the best defense is usually a good offense.  The best way to deal with a diagnosis of cancer is to be as realistic and honest as possible.  Our best offense was to plunge full force  When I look at this comment from the oncologist in this light, I can understand it.  Yet to presuppose a diagnosis without the addition of hope, only leads us to despair.  Reality is painful enough, more so without the effects of hope!

Sometimes Just Being There is all we need

Through this experience, I am convinced that one of the key tools in transmitting hope and reality,  is the ability to be an empathetic communicator.    Calmly… Empathy transmits hope and reality.  I don’t think that there is anymore that we can ask for when dealing with the stark reality of Cancer or any other disabling illness.

You see…We Might Have Cancer…But Cancer Does Not Have Us! 

Photo Credit: ‘The Bow-Tie-Guy”



Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Spirituality

The Bow-Tie-Guy Tip of the Day:

Life is meant to be lived in forward, not in reverse.

Photo Credit ‘Free Digital Photo’s’

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, Humor, Inter-generational Relationships, Live Love Laugh, Love, Older man, Spirituality

The Bow-Tie-Guy Tip of the day

Equality is a human right, not a privilege!

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Caregivers…”Never Alone”

One of the many things that I have missed while being away from Fort Lauderdale for the past four years has been congregation at The Sunshine Cathedral .  While attending worship services this past Sunday, the senior Pastor  Reverend Durrell Watkins,  preached on a topic that really hit home for me: his sermon was entitled, “Never Alone”.

What I know is that prayer connects us to all the prayers of eternity and to all the people who have ever prayed and so the very act of prayer is a reminder that we are not alone, and if we are not facing the challenges of life alone, then hope, peace, and joy are always possible and that’s pretty miraculous.”   Reverend Durrell Watkins Sunday April 22, 2012.

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Filed under Advocate, cancer treatments, caregiver, Caregiving, God, Jewish, LGBT Couples, Senior Health, Spirituality, Theology, Unconditional Love

Florida arrival

We arrived safe and sound in Deerfield Beach this week. While we miss our family and friends in St. Louis, We are both thankful to be in South Florida.

This afternoon we are visiting the primary care physician; Monday the cardiologist and Tuesday the Oncologist. The report today at the PCP has been great. There is weight gain, all the critical numbers are good. The doctor is quite pleased, and so are we…This has been a remarkable recovery!

It’s great to share our sunshine with you from the Sunshine State!



Filed under advocacy, caregiver, Caregiving, Humor, Intergenerational, Jewish, LGBT, LGBT Couples, Live Love Laugh, Medical Office, Senior Health, Spirituality

The Heart of Caregiving

Cancer came upon us in one full swoop.  Often times, we get into situations that are beyond our control…’things’ just happen, like Cancer.  Care-givers are often thrown into their roles on a moments notice.  Cancer or other debilitating illnesses do not arrive by invitation, they just show up at your door unannounced. When you think about it, no one wants their loved one to be ill, no one wants to see their parent, spouse, child or best friend ill.  Unfortunately, illness is a part of life that we all have to deal with.  At a moments notice you become a care-giver, without any warning, without any preparation, without any idea of what you are supposed to do next.  All of a sudden you are responsible for someones well-being because of their illness.    Care-giving is a tremendous, rewarding  and sometimes a frustrating experience, yet care-giving has meaning to it that is beyond approach.

While I do not often revert  to my theological training, I am reminded of the Corporal Works of Mercy which are, simply stated, the seven practices of charity towards our neighbor…

1. Feed the hungry: 2. Give drink to the thirsty: 3. Clothe the naked: 4. Shelter the homeless: 5. Visit the sick: 6.Visit those in prison: 7. Bury the dead.

I see the Corporal Works of Mercy as a job descriptions for caregivers.  There is an art in accomplishing these task and  and in accomplishing these tasks, one has to have a caring heart.  Care-giving is not a role for the faint of heart, it is not a role suited for everyone.  Just as we all have different talents, skills and life avocations, being a care-giver is no different.  The tryouts are usually on the fly and without much preparation, however care-giving is bound to have a profound effect on all involved in the experience.

One of the most important components of being a care-giver is that you  have a caring heart.  Sound kind of silly doesn’t it?  But it is true!   How many other ‘jobs’ monitor the feelings inside your heart?  Being a care-giver is not a ‘job’ to those who do it, it’s an avocation.    If  you are not truly concerned about the person you are caring for, then it might be a good idea for you  to take a close look at what you are doing for that person. There is a high rate of burn out in care-giving;  care-giving is an  intense experience where you often surrender your self for the needs of someone else.  Finding that happy balance is truly a slippery slope. The art of care-giving always starts with a feeling from inside heart.


Filed under advocacy, Advocate, caregiver, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Senior Health, Spirituality, Unconditional Love

A Word from The Little One

Tonight at dinner we were chatting about our blog as I have been asked to write an article for a national publication on Care-Givers and Care-Giving in April (more to come on that exciting news).  The Little One wanted me to share these words with you this evening…

“Thank you for reading ‘The Purple Jacket” I hope that in reading Chris’ account of my fight with esophagus cancer  that you don’t give up hope, share in the joy and comfort that you can reap from this wonderful thing, a dedicated caregiver. My siblings have pass on; not only is he my caregiver, he is my partner I would be all alone with out his dedication and love.  Even though cancer has struck me, for the second time, I find joy and compassion being with my partner and caregiver.  Go through life with a strong will, even at those darkest times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.   Bernard Richard Schiffer 2.5.2012.


Filed under Advocate, caregiver, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, LGBT Couples, Live Love Laugh, Love, Older man, Senior Health, Spirituality