October 18, 2002, Friday
ROGER and Kathy Gant celebrate 35 years of marriage soon . . . and they say the secret is friendship.
"You're married for life . . . for better or worse," Roger says.
"And if your best friend is in a wheelchair, you help them." You see, Roger is not only a husband and companion to Kathy, he has also been her carer for the past five years.
Diagnosed in 1989 with multiple sclerosis, Kathy maintained a regular lifestyle until 1997, when she opted for a wheelchair.
"I'm not sick or in pain. I have people come up to me and act odd because I'm in a wheelchair. It's a frustrating and disabling disease. I can't move," she says.
"I consider myself a fortunate sufferer, if there is such a thing.
"This whole time all that's suffered is my right arm and leg."
Kathy says prior to 1997 she could walk as long as she could hold on to objects, like an armchair, in between.
"It just slowly got worse and worse."
Driving a school bus during the week, Roger also undertakes the usual housework like cooking, washing and cleaning.
"It doesn't worry me. I don't get upset over it. I don't look at it as a chore," he says.
"There's a lot of fellas who would just walk out but I know if the situation was reversed, Kathy would do it for me.
"It's easy," Roger adds,
"I still have time for my golf!"
Once a week, a Home Help attendant assists the Gants for an hour but otherwise they take care of everything themselves.
"It doesn't really restrict us. We still go shopping and out for tea.
"Roger takes me up to the golf club for the barbecues. He comes home and gets me."
It is estimated one in five Queesland households are in a carer situation.
Next week marks National Carers Week, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of carers in the community.
"I don't need to be recognised," Roger says.
"I'd do it with or without recognition . . . but it is nice to be, I guess."
To celebrate carers week, the Burdekin Flexible Support Service will hold a morning tea Monday, October 21.
The service is one of the many in the region providing support for families in the Gant's situation.
However, Roger says as yet they have needed no such thing.
"Support is great for all the people who need it but we don't. Maybe later on. I can still leave Kathy for a few hours. But the day I have to be here constantly, we may need support."
"That day won't come, Roger," Kathy smiles.
"They'll find a cure by then."
© Copyright 2002 Nationwide News Pty Limited