Hi, I’m Cathy Leer. In 1991 I started Family Physical Therapy Services. But the story of this business started long before that. You see, I was only about 3 years old when my mother started having symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. Obviously, I didn’t realize the significance of that until I was a little older, but for all intents and purposes, she suffered from this very debilitating disease for nearly my entire life.
Of course, my dad was her primary care giver throughout the years, but I helped with many things and often times saw her receiving treatment and going to physical therapy. Unfortunately, when I was only 17, my father took ill and on his death bed, I promised that I would take care of my mom. Naturally I took this very seriously, and many responsibilities fell on my shoulders. So, when my guidance counselor suggested physical therapy as a possible career choice, I felt it was meant to be, and I enrolled in the PT program at Russell Sage College.
I’m happy to say that I completed the program, graduated, got engaged and eventually married. I made a commitment to stay within driving distance to my mom so that I could continue to provide whatever assistance and care that she would need. Unfortunately, circumstances changed in 1986, and she moved in with us and lived with us until her passing in 2005. In 1991, I started Family Physical Therapy Services, and guess who was by my side…yup, my mom. She came to work with me every day and was my very first receptionist!
During the nearly 20 years of caring for her in our home, there were many health and emotional challenges that we faced together. I heard her on more than one occasion, question why me? Lord, what did I do to deserve this? Why can’t I do these things myself anymore? I also saw the tears and frustrations of trying and failing, trying and falling, and yes… the tears of joy of finally trying and succeeding. And although she brought great joy to myself, my husband, and our two sons, and helped in any way that she could, she also felt like she was a burden. She was totally dependent upon others, and that bothered her greatly.
My own emotions ran the gamut during this time as you can well imagine. I was running a business, raising 2 children, and taking care of my mom pretty much full time. Like her, I shed tears of joy when I could help, and became frustrated, angry, and felt like a failure when I couldn’t. At times, I was exhausted and felt like I was at wits end and couldn’t go on but in the end, I found the strength and stamina to somehow succeed.
So why did I tell you my story? All my life experiences have guided me in the choices I made throughout my life time. From college, to where I lived, to having my mom live with us because of promises I made to my dad, and eventually starting my own clinic. Her experiences, frustrations, emotions, and desires as a patient and one in need of care, as well as my own as her care giver, have influenced how I run the business and WHY we continue to focus upon the needs of our patients and their families. In my mind, and in my practice, patients and their family are extensions of our own family and patients always come first!
As I said, my life experiences have influenced me all of my life, and I want to do more to put CARE back into HealthCARE!