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‘I could breathe again’: JourneyCare helps husband keep promise to care for his wife

From the time he was just a teen, Bob Krich of Elgin knew just how to fix things.

He adored finding cars that were worse for the wear and restoring them to their former racing glory. In fact, he was just a high school student when he began fixing up a 1955 Chevy Coupe and, soon afterward, met Sharon.

Sharon and Bob married when he was 19 and she was 18, but their young lives would not remain carefree for long. Bob was drafted into the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. Meanwhile, Sharon was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that required surgery while her husband was abroad.

Thankfully, Sharon’s surgery was a success, Bob returned home unharmed and the couple began a life focused on their shared love of fixing things, mixed with some travel. In addition to restoring old cars, Bob and Sharon joined Elgin’s Gifford Park Association and helped restore historic homes throughout the city, including their own.

For decades Sharon enjoyed good health until illness struck again in 2003 – this time breast cancer – and she chose a double mastectomy.

“Eventually she was getting better. By about 2005, I remember one day I looked at Sharon and said ‘Hon, you’re looking really good,’” Bob recalls. “But that same day she went out and got into a four-car accident. It must have wreaked havoc on her body, because after that she had chronic pain for about two years. Eventually, doctors discovered brain tumors following an MRI.”

Sharon chose to fight her illness with radiation for several years, ultimately undergoing roughly 35 treatments. But last year, she felt the treatments were detracting from her quality of life. So the couple chose to stop and focus on their remaining time together.

As Sharon’s illness progressed, however, Bob realized he needed help and this was something he could not fix alone this time.

“I had known about JourneyCare thanks to a recommendation from one of Sharon’s physical therapists, so when I needed help I called and they were wonderful, starting with the initial evaluation,” Bob said. “I promised Sharon she would never go into a facility and JourneyCare helped me keep my promise to care for her at home.”

Immediately, Sharon’s care team improved her comfort by eliminating unnecessary medications and adding treatments like oxygen. And they helped Bob by bringing in critical equipment like a wheelchair, while also sharing the clinical knowledge he needed to ensure Sharon was receiving the best care possible.

“I appreciated their honesty and expertise,” Bob says. “I had a new direction for her care and it was all just tremendous help.”

When Sharon died last September, she was at home in her husband’s arms, just as the couple wished.

To thank JourneyCare for caring for his wife, Sharon, Bob Krich presented a donation to Field Team Director Marjorie Metz Pullinger on behalf of The Northern Illinois Street Rod Association, the group Bob is part of that collects classic cars.

Bob and the couple’s dog, Darla, both miss Sharon tremendously and want to keep her memory alive. In part, they do that every time Bob joins his friends in the Northern Illinois Street Rod Association and shows off his 1937 Chevy Coupe. Sharon once spotted the rusty car on the street and told him “Buy it!” because she saw its inner beauty.

But he also chooses to remember Sharon by giving back. That is why Bob and his fellow Street Rod members raised money in her name this summer to benefit an agency that made a profound difference in their lives: JourneyCare. Bob also honored his wife with a memorial brick at JourneyCare’s Barrington Campus.

Ultimately, he says he wants other families to experience the relief he felt once JourneyCare stepped in to help him and Sharon.

“I could breathe again once JourneyCare got involved,” Bob says.

 

 

 

– By Elisabeth Mistretta, JourneyCare Content Specialist
Originally published in Together to Care, Fall/Winter 2016

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