Tuesdays are always a bright spot in the week for Laura Cox, if not the highlight. As caregiver for her former husband who is living with multiple myeloma, her time is spent ensuring his comfort and managing a busy household. So, on Tuesdays when she is at RiverBend Wellness House volunteering her time to care for others, it’s a welcome respite.
“People often say to me, when they hear I’m my ex-husband’s caregiver—and that he lives with me—that I must be a saint,” Laura says with a laugh. Rather, she likes to think of herself as simply doing what she can to help the father of her youngest (now adult) daughter. “He needed help and my daughter and I agreed we could do it.”
It’s been six years, and in that time, she became familiar with RiverBend’s counseling services.
“I was lost...I had no idea how to care for someone with cancer. A friend told me about RiverBend and how they are here to help caregivers too.”
Laura finds it hard to put into words how much the counseling has helped her, but it’s the reason she volunteers each week. She’s a “welcomer”, guiding visitors and clients to where they need to be. She meets others in the same situation as she, along with those in treatment. “RiverBend cares for not just one aspect of a person’s recovery,” she said. “It’s mental, spiritual, physical. A lifeline for many of us.”
At the Wellness House, Laura’s known as “the organizer”. She makes sense of chaotic areas, including the garage, which recently became storage for a large donation of durable goods and equipment. She credits her need to keep busy as the source of her energy: “I try to control areas that need it, putting things in areas where it makes the most sense for everyone. It’s just easier for people who are busy to be able to find things quickly.”
These days, providing support for her ex-husband takes less of her time now that he is in remission, and
Laura would like to go back to work. A graduate of IU South Bend with a degree in sociology and psychology, Laura used to be a case manager for Madison Center, working with children in crisis. But that doesn’t mean she’ll give up her Tuesday hours at RiverBend.
“I’m a big ambassador for RiverBend. So many people still haven’t heard of this agency and what they can do for those living with cancer. It’s a lifeline; like having a friend you can turn to,” she says. “By volunteering, I’m just giving back what I was so freely given. I do this for me, and I hope to never give it up.”