Thursday, July 22, 2010

Incredible Woman #47 - Shannon Stahura. Traveler and Caregiver...

KARA: "Have you done a lot of traveling? Where is your favorite place for vacation with your family? What about with your husband? What one place do you want to visit someday?"

SHANNON: "I don't think I travel a lot. If you asked my husband he would say otherwise. I visit my sister in Florida, my brother in Kentucky and whenever I can I enjoy a week in Maui. We have a unique situation. My husband hates to travel. He hates to fly, drive, take a bus and especially not take a train. So we have learned to work around this. I am consequently looking for fun and exciting vacation destinations that are close to home. Over the years, hands down, our favorite spots are Zions Ponderosa Ranch in Mt. Carmel Utah. I actually found out about it in the Family Fun Magazine. It is an all inclusive wilderness resort. You stay in cabins and go on different activities all day such as 4 wheeling, paintball, repelling, archery, shooting range, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, etc. All the meals are provided. And there is a kids' camp for the kids 3-12. There is always some type of fun evening activity such as a barn dance, skit night , or bon fire. Second, we love Aspen Grove Family Camp in Sundance, Utah. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while sleeping in the luxury of a bed, spend time with your kids, get alone time with your husband and do amazing fun activities. Our family spends hours in the art shack painting ceramics. Finally, we love to go on boating weekends at Pineview Resevoir in Ogden Utah. Lakeside resort properties is an amazing condominium complex built for the Olympics right on the lake and it is reasonably priced with 5 star amenities."

KARA: "You are a caregiver for your mother right now while she is going through treatments for breast cancer. What are the challenges in doing this? What are the blessings you’ve received as you’ve helped her? Have you learned anything new about your mother?"

SHANNON: "For the last 22 years I have lived 1600 miles away from my mom. We have seen each other at least once a year. But she has not been able to attend any of our families special events such as baptisms, birthdays, etc. It is a blessing to have her in our home. It is exciting for me to have my kids interact with her on a daily basis. It is like having your best friend living with you. Prior to her cancer, we went to lunch everyday and I would talk nonstop and she would just listen. It was difficult when she got cancer. She had just sold her home and all her possessions and moved here from Kentucky and was living with us. She put her papers in to go on an LDS mission and in the process she got the results back from her physicals and the mammogram showed she had a mass in her right breast. It was shocking! And things just got worse from there. I know I didn't understand what she was going through. All I knew to do was just be there for her. Many of the nurses who took care of her had decided to pursue their careers because someone close to them had suffered or died from cancer and they wanted to give back. Their way of giving back was inspiring to me. It has also been a blessing for my children to be involved in helping care for my mom. I am away most of the day at school and my youngest daughter and son check on her and help prepare her meals. My oldest son and daughter have both had the opportunity to take my mom to chemotherapy and help care for her needs there for the day. It has helped us all put things in perspective and take a break from our hectic frivolous lives and take time for Grandma. I feel like my mom has pioneered the cancer experience in our family. She was the first and she probably won't be the last to deal with this in our family, but at least having gone through this with her. I am not afraid. I know what to expect and I know it is something I could get through. My mom is my example. We have laughed and we have cried. And when we talk she shares her stories of how she makes it through each day and she inspires me.

One special thing as her caregiver is flowers bring her such great joy. I knew that she would not have the strength to walk the gardens and check on the flowers and vegetables. So prior to her chemotherapy treatments, we created several pots of flowers and hanging baskets all within the view of her bedroom. So on the days she can't get out of bed she can look out her window and see an amazing view of flowers everywhere. And on the days when she can, she does manage to walk outside her door and she has a chair where she sits in the shade and enjoys the beauty of all the flowering blossoms."

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for the last day of Shannon's interview - we'll learn about her family, and her beauty secrets (I know you won't want to miss that!).


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