In many ways, Jamie-Marie Genito is just like every other 10-year-old. She goes to school, enjoys dancing and piano lessons, and struggles to put down her new iPad when asked to.
But unlike other kids her age, Jamie-Marie is also her mum Helen’s sole carer.
“She’s just fantastic,” says the Melbourne mum, who has multiple sclerosis (MS) and diabetes.
“But I really want her to remember the fun parts of her childhood and not just taking care of Mummy all the time.”
Helen was diagnosed with MS at 38, just after Jamie-Marie was born. She and her husband Jamie, who also had diabetes, spent seven years trying for a baby and succeeded on their third round of IVF.
Yet, when Jaime-Marie was just two years old, her father passed away from diabetes-related complications. Then, in 2010, when Jamie-Marie was four, Helen had a major MS relapse, which left her with a permanent progressive weakening of the left side and an ongoing tremor.
Luckily, Jamie-Marie was happy and willing to step up and help her mum around the house.
She now does the laundry, folds clothes, washes the dishes, makes sure the floor is clean and ensures there aren’t any trip hazards. She also helps her mum with her medications, and lays out her clothes.
“Being a carer takes a lot of responsibility,” says Jamie-Marie.
“But Mum always looks after me when I’m sick, so it’s nice being able to help her too.”
National Carers Week runs until October 23. If you have an inspirational carer you'd like to thank do it in person, jump onto carersweek.com.au/make-a-pledge, leave a comment on Facebook/WomansDayAUS or post a message of thanks on Twitter or Instagram tagging @womansdayaus and to read about more inspirational young carers, get the latest issue of Woman's Day, on sale now!