With a new wife and daughter, this millennial took on caregiving for two.
For the first part of their relationship, Dustin and Kim Cesarek were like any young couple. They met, fell in love and had a daughter named Reagan. Then, their idyllic story took an unexpected turn.
When the Cesareks’ infant leaned against Kim’s chest, the new mom felt pain that seemed out of the ordinary. When Kim’s doctor suggested she get a mammogram, the results showed a potential abnormality and, after a biopsy, it was revealed Kim had breast cancer that had already spread to her sternum, liver and spine.
The news came as a total shock. “It really shakes your foundation,” Dustin said. “It threw our family’s plans out the window.”
The couple’s time was consumed by doctors’ appointments and procedures to determine the extent of Kim’s illness, which would later be diagnosed as metastatic, stage IV breast cancer. For Kim, everything became about her health. For Dustin, everything became about Kim.
“I wanted to make sure that Kim was getting the best care she could get,” he explained. Dustin stepped into the role of primary caregiver for his wife by taking on additional household duties, driving her to and from appointments and making sure she ate despite a waning appetite. With an 8-month-old at home, Dustin became the caregiver to both ladies in his life.
“It was a lot of adjustment,” Dustin acknowledged. “Kim wasn’t able to do as much of the heavy lifting as she probably would have preferred.”
Beyond the additional duties Dustin took on, he also began to grapple with the gravity and implications of Kim’s illness…