CW: Death & Cancer
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter died yesterday at 96. She was an advocate for caregivers nationwide. Her father’s cancer diagnosis led her to create the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.
Her father, Wilburn Edgar Smith, died of leukemia when she was just 13 years old. Tragically, her grandmother also died unexpectedly the same year. Her family welcomed her grandfather into their home and cared for his needs.
According to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Leukemia is a type of blood cancer primarily affecting white blood cells. Leukemia can develop when white blood cells fail to grow normally.
Leukemia is most frequently diagnosed in people over the age of 55. However, it is also the most frequent cancer among children under the age of 15. Every year, approximately 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with leukemia. Symptoms include fever, frequent bruising, headaches, breathing difficulties, and skin rashes.
The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI) was founded in 1987 to meet the particular needs of caregivers, individuals who generously care for family and friends. She developed The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers based on the idea that people will need care at some point. Whether someone is a caregiver today, has been a caregiver in the past, or will be or need one in the future.
The RCI has been a hands-on program for caregivers in Georgia for nearly four decades. The organization estimates approximately 55 million people are unpaid caregivers in the United States alone. The purpose is to encourage national expansion, raise awareness of the issues that family caregivers face, and showcase caregivers as an essential component of our nation’s public health system.
In 2020, AARP found that more than one-fifth of Americans (21.3 percent) now provide care. Having cared for an adult or child with disabilities in the previous 12 months. Caregiving can also impact finances. A report from AARP titled Caregiving Can Be Costly — Even Financially shows that family caregivers spend an average of more than $7,000 a year on expenses related to caregiving.
Rosalynn Carter’s work regarding caregiving was invaluable. Her work impacted the lives of millions of Americans. Family caregivers need support in order to continue providing vital care to their loved ones.
AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020. Washington, DC: AARP. May 2020. https://doi.org/10.26419/ppi.00103.001
“Leukemia Types, Symptoms, and Treatments.” UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, UPMC, hillman.upmc.com/cancer-care/blood/types/leukemia. Accessed 19 Nov. 2023.
“Rosalynn Carter: Caregiver to All Caregivers.” FOX 5 Atlanta, New World Pictures, 19 Nov. 2023, http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/rosalynn-carter-institute-for-caregivers.amp.