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Embracing the Caregiving Journey: Lan Phan on Transforming Pain into Purpose

  1. Embracing the Caregiving Journey: Lan Phan on Transforming Pain into Purpose JJ, Natalie, and Emilie 47:25

Lan Phan, a former Caregiver for her mother with advanced-stage dementia, shares her decade-long journey. As Vietnamese refugees, Lan's mother worked tirelessly as a hairdresser to support their family. In her late 70s, her health declined, prompting Lan to leave her job in New York and move to California to care for her mother.

Lan faced challenges in finding full-time care and making decisions with her siblings about her mother's living situation. Her mother's dementia progressed, requiring 24/7 care and eventually a memory care facility. Navigating the healthcare system, advocating for her mother's needs, and dealing with Caregiver burnout took a toll on Lan.

Lan's experience inspired her to start her own company and pursue speaking and writing to assist others. She realized the value of living intentionally and pursuing dreams, as time and mental capacity are finite. Lan aims to honor her mother's sacrifices by living fully and helping others through her work.

About Lan:

Lan Phan is an author and speaker known for her expertise in purpose, mindset, and continuous improvement. Her expertise has made her a sought-after consultant for Fortune 500 companies, where she advises CEOs and C-Suite executives to help them navigate the dynamic realms of business and innovation. Her thought leadership can be found in prestigious publications like The Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Money.

As a keynote speaker, Lan has graced prominent platforms, including the United Nations, Stanford University, NYU Law, and events hosted by Fortune 100 companies like PepsiCo, Warner Media, Citi, Bank of America, Disney, and Meta. On LinkedIn and YouTube, her content reaches an audience of millions annually, resonating deeply across diverse demographics. Phan is named as one of the top 100 LinkedIn creators globally and top ten in Management and Leadership.

A Stanford University alumnus, she was honored with the J.E. Wallace Sterling Award, which recognized her significant impact through leadership and community service. She also holds a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Lan resides in New York with her husband, Kevin, and their daughter, Morgan.

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JJ Elliott Hill Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver

Known since childhood as “The Elliott Girls” or simply, “The Girls”, it makes sense that we work together to support our mother, and each other. Our trio begins with Jenefer Jane “JJ” who was and always will be “in charge”. She’s the peacekeeper. The responsible one, ensuring Natalie and Emilie remain alive. Next is Natalie, the middle child, who was and always will be Miss Congeniality. She’s the athlete. The rebel responsible for three babysitters exiting the summer of ’84. Then there is Emilie, the youngest, who was and always will be “the baby”. At 6’1”, she is the sensitive and quiet soul. The one responsible for the guinea pig that begged for lettuce and the stray dog we adopted from the bus stop.

After high school we went separate ways, from New Mexico to North Carolina. JJ would go on to get her Master’s in Business Administration and work in the finance world before partnering with her now husband, Dexter, to run a variety of businesses. Natalie would go on to get her Master’s in Social Work degree, and work in the mental health field, advocating for children and families to receive the most appropriate services. Natalie would marry and divorce early on but later marry Jason. Emilie would exit college early to marry and gift us with Owen and twins, Maxx and Natalie Jane aka “The Kids”. Emilie would later divorce and work with county government, focusing much time on caring for the kids.

The source of the sisterhood falls to Jim aka “Big Jim” and Connie, small town high school sweethearts married for almost 40 years.

In 2005, at the age of 52, mom would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She hid the disease for years behind dad’s 6’2” frame. The tremors and sudden inability to move were both calmed and steadied by his arm and simple presence. He was her rock. Our rock. Close family and friends knew of her chronic illness, but to the rest of the world, everything was “fine”. Life would turn upside down when our dad unexpectedly passed in 2011 of a massive heart attack at the age of 58. The assumption was Dad would always be mom’s caregiver but that wasn’t God’s plan.

Mom would spend the years following our father’s death desperately seeking a cure for Parkinson’s while trying to manage her symptoms. As the years went by, the cruel symptoms associated with the disease increased, negatively impacting her body while her mind remained clear and in tune. We lived our lives checking in to make sure she was “okay” but knowing the day would come when we had to do more. And then it did. The summer of 2019 changed everything. That’s where the real caregiver story begins for us. Little did we know she would be only the beginning of our caregiving journey.

In March 2022, Natalie’s husband, Jason, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. From the first time Jason detected something off about the swollen lymph nodes in his neck, to the formal diagnosis, and the decision to move to New York City to participate in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the journey would push them to their limits. The silver lining of his diagnosis was the cancer brought them closer to God, restoring their faith in Him while also experiencing a myriad of blessings through the kindness of family, friends, and strangers. Their story is a testimony that will inspire and offer hope.

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