Sandra Kindel

“Being a caregiver firsthand will forever be the most rewarding time in my life.”

I live my life for my kids, and I was a CF caregiver to my son Michael as a single parent for the 15 years of his life. Michael passed away at the tender age of 15, and this was the most difficult time for myself and Michael’s three siblings.

Michael began getting sick when he was just one month old, and he was diagnosed at four months old. Throughout Michael’s life, there were many difficult times dealing with the hardships associated with the disease, but all the kids supported him and were very proud of his strength and the fact that it was hard to tell he was sick because of his positive attitude.

Michael was an extraordinary young man, and I am so blessed to have had him in my life. Growing up with CF, Michael did not let anything hold him back. He was a straight A student; even though he had to be home-schooled the last couple years of his life, he never gave up. He graduated from middle school and received a scholarship for high school, and this was a very proud moment for the both of us! He was also very involved in the Make a Wish Foundation, as he participated in walks in Florida.

Michael began to get very sick around the age of seven, and at age nine, they told us he needed a lung transplant. This was very hard to handle at such a young age, but then, miraculously, he started improving and did not need the transplant yet. That was short-lived, however, and he then went from being sick to extremely sick. Michael knew he was reaching his last bit of time on Earth, and it was his wish to spend this time at home. Before Michael passed, he sat up and said he had to go, he knew he was ready. Although this was the hardest time on my family and me, he helped us accept his passing because he always had a smile on his face, and he let us know he was okay and he was ready to leave and go play.

After this devastating and emotional time in my life, I felt a little useless and was out of work for eight months. This was an awakening in my life, and I then became a Respiratory Therapist. I work with adults and many who have CF. My experiences with Michael now help me with my patients. He taught me more than I ever could have learned just by going to school to be a Respiratory Therapist. Being a caregiver firsthand will forever be the most rewarding time in my life.

Each day is a bit easier, and although Michael will not be back, I know he is with me and he is my guiding footsteps as he helps walk me through this life …

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