In April of 2017, comedian Jim Gaffigan’s wife Jeannie had to undergo a nine hour surgery to remove a six-centimeter benign brain tumor. Nearly two years later, Jim is opening up about what life is like for them today.
“She’s doing great. It would be insensitive to say that she’s back to normal. She’s charging back but for anyone who’s dealt with a medical emergency, there’s still reality that she has to deal with,” Jim said of Jeannie, who was a co-writer, director and executive producer of her husband’s fifth album, “Cinco.”
“I think society tends to view things from recovering like a common cold. Like you’re sick and then you’re better,” Jim continued. “But the reality is when you deal with the removal of a brain tumor, you’re sick and then there’s a long road back and the possibility of not getting to 100 percent. So I would describe my wife at 80 percent. But her 80 percent is like most people’s 120 percent.”
Jim and his wife have been married since 2003 and are the parents to five children. They also have been business partners, creating TV Land’s “The Jim Gaffigan Show” together.
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After her surgery, Jim served as Jeannie’s primary caregiver. They have since teamed up with Tylenol’s #HowWeCare campaign, calling this collaboration a “no-brainer.” This campaign makes it possible for caregivers to receive Care Cards, which can aid with transportation through Uber or with house cleaning and handyman services through Handy.
“Having gone through the experience that we went through as a family, it became very apparent that the caregiving role is something that obviously I personally have an interaction with,” he said. “Also it is something that is under-acknowledged in how we deal with medical crises.”
“I think when people are dealing with a loved one that is going through a medical emergency, people send best wishes and prayers maybe food but what’s so effective about the #HowWeCare campaign is helping with tangible assistance,” Jim continued.
Jim went on to praise other caregivers, saying that this has given him a whole new respect for them.
“Being a caregiver is a great honor but it’s also an incredibly stressful, ongoing experience,” he said. “It’s a privilege to take care of someone, especially someone who took care of you. It was also a positive example for my children to see me in a caregiving role.”
When asked what advice he would have for other families going through something like this, Jim said that humor is essential.
“Humor is pretty vital for the well being of everyone involved. Finding moments to laugh at a situation obviously within the context of respect for the situation. Laughter is really effective tool, it’s like tears, it alleviates some of the stress,” he said. “I think finding some light in the situation, obviously it’s difficult to take care of someone in pain or someone who is dealing with frustration of being away from their kids. But finding humor is pretty important. I think humor is an element that Jeannie and I leaned on as an outlet.”