Nancy O’Dell: Ambassador of Hope

When the Entertainment Tonight anchor lost her mom to a neuromuscular disease, she became a patient advocate. Read the heartbreaking story of her mom’s struggle.

Bari Nan Cohen
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Nancy’s top 5 caregiving tips

  1. Reach out for resources 
    Contact a national advocacy group for the disease your loved one is battling. “From the moment we received the diagnosis, the Muscular Dystrophy Association was there to help us navigate the disease and its treatment,” says Nancy. Advocacy organizations can also help you find a local support group.
  2. Enjoy the time you have
    “One of my mom’s doctors said something I didn’t want to hear,” says Nancy. “He said, ‘We’re all going to die, but we don’t always know how. The best thing you can do is to make the most of the time you have left.’ I took his words to heart, and I’m grateful for the time my mom and I had together.”
  3. Nourish yourself
    “For months after my mom’s diagnosis, I didn’t take time to go running, which helps clear my head,” says Nancy. “Also, although I ate as well as I could, my diet was far from perfect.” Feeling depleted, she returned to her healthy habits about a month before her mom passed away. “I realized I needed to take better care of myself so I could be there for my daughter,” Nancy says.
  4. Let others help
    “My aunt stayed with my mom when my dad was working,” says Nancy. “My mom-in-law would take care of Ashby so I could coordinate my mom’s care."
  5. Verify your online research
    “I admit I looked up almost everything about ALS on the Internet,” says Nancy. “It can be terrifying, so be sure to run everything you read by a healthcare provider."
May 2013