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Cathy Davies: Caregiver Spotlight

Cathy Davies and Sue Mullenburg have been together for 20 years. This couple is an inspiring example of the sacrifices partners make in the face of an ALS diagnosis. They live in Eagle Creek, Oregon, about thirty minutes southeast of Portland in a beautiful home Sue actually designed and built with the help of family and friends. On the property, dubbed, “Dream Catcher Ranch” Cathy and Sue have horses, chickens, a pig, cats and dogs. Sue was diagnosed with ALS in early 2023, and the dreams Cathy and Sue had for their future of fishing, hiking, and camping all went out the window. It has been a difficult journey for the couple, – however, Cathy has been there for Sue every step of her journey with ALS.  

The couple met playing softball- Cathy was the pitcher, and Sue was the catcher. When asked when they got together, Cathy can give the exact date (August 14, 2003), because it was also the day their team won their championship game. Both women spent their life playing sports and bonded over their love of outdoor activities like camping, hiking, biking, and gardening.  

This past year, more than ever, they have discovered the importance of having kind and supportive family and friends who are truly there when times get tough. Cathy’s nephew and his friend remodeled Sue and Cathy’s bathroom themselves on the weekends to make it accessible for Sue in her wheelchair. The charmingly tiled shower and hand-painted sink (homage to Sue’s love of horses) is a physical representation of the care and dedication Sue and Cathy’s family and friends have for them – now and before ALS. 

Both Sue and Cathy feel very grateful for their circle of support, which includes ALS Northwest. Caregiving is a full-time job and becomes more challenging as Sue’s mobility decreases. As Sue’s ALS progresses, ALS Northwest has been a crucial source of support for navigating ALS treatment and acquiring medical equipment. Cathy shared, “ALS Northwest has been one of the best things that has helped us get through this.” 

Cathy’s love for Sue is clear in her constant attention to her wife’s needs. Sue loves the daily smoothies Cathy makes her, and the pair love to spend the evenings watching movies together and enjoying their deck. A lot has changed since Cathy and Sue got together 20 years ago, but the love these two have for each other remains the same.  

November is Caregiver Appreciation Month, but it’s always a good time to recognize the hard work and dedication of caregivers in your life! Caregiving is a 24/7 job, and one that is often underappreciated. ALS Northwest provides support for family caregivers with caregiver support groups, bi-annual caregiver bootcamps, and our caregiver mentor support program. 

Additional Resources: 
Caregiver Action Network 

Share the Care- organizing care 

National Alliance for Caregiving 

Family Caregivers Share Common Job but Diverse Experiences – UC Davis Health

How To Support Caregivers Balancing Work and Caregiving Duties – Forbes.com

Facing Financial Ruin as Costs Soar for Elder Care – New York Times

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