Generous high school student is ailing mother’s caregiver

Joanne gives her mother her daily eyedrops she must receive three times a day.

Single mother Jocelyne Cius worked two jobs before a 2010 diagnosis of diabetes and hypertension led to the amputations of one hand and five toes and the loss of sight in one eye. At 53, she is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.

“My eyes can barely see,” she said in Haitian creole, translated by her daughter. “It’s hard for me to sleep.”

Her daughter Joanne Cadet, 18, is a senior at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach. She wants to be a doctor who delivers babies, she said.

Joanne wonders what it would be like to play tennis on a school team, or just have a little more time to take a walk on the beach.

She has spent much of the last seven years helping care for her mother — injecting insulin, putting in eye drops, helping her bathe and dress, cooking, and helping her into a wheelchair.

Joanne hopes “people would understand it’s hard to go to school and come back and care for a parent.”

Her mother has not worked since 2010. She had surgery on her foot that year. Her left hand was amputated in February 2014.

Joanne closes the window for Jocelyne, who felt cold.

Joanne’s brother Jerry Cius, who turns 22 in December, works jobs in security and at restaurants washing dishes.

“It’s been hard, having to work and not being with her full time,” he said. “I’ve kind of had to leave my little sister home while I’m at work.”

Last year his sister, referred by a guidance counselor, enrolled in a Caregiving Youth Project at her high school. The program offers tutoring sessions and “skill building” groups to help students caring for others at home.

The nonprofit program provides “respite care” to give her breaks, school supplies to help her academic work, and counseling and support for her emotional well-being, according to the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY).

Jocelyn receives disability income and both children have worked at various jobs to provide what support they can, but expenses often exceed their income, said Claudine Jean-Louis, a family specialist with the AACY’s Boca Raton office.

“Caregiving can be overwhelming for Joanne and it is hard to focus on school while struggling with her mom’s illness,” Jean-Louis said. “Financial insecurity is a constant concern for this family.”

Jocelyne’s “situation is overwhelming for one person to endure, but she continues to smile,” said the family specialist. “She is a single mother who wants a better life for her children.”

That dream “now comes with many challenges,” said Jean-Louis. “Jocelyn and her two children would be so encouraged to be helped during this waiting process for her kidney transplant.”

JOCELYNE’S WISH

As a single working parent in Delray Beach, Jocelyne Cius sought the best for her children. But health problems including diabetes and hypertension have led to amputations of her hand and five toes, as well as blindness in one eye. At 53, she is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Her children Jerry Cius, 21, and Joanne Cadet, 18, devote much of their time to caring for her. The family is in constant need of supplies to help assist Jocelyne. They could use adult diapers, clothing and a blood pressure machine to monitor hypertension. They also would be grateful for a television, bedroom furniture, a couch with table, and financial assistance to pay past-due cable bills. A car would help Joanne, her mother’s primary caregiver, to commute between school, work and her mom’s appointments so she doesn’t have to miss school and can continue to help provide for the family.

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Photography by Calla Kessler/Staff

Nominated by American Association of Caregiving Youth

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