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A challenging 8 years for Henley family

Mike Henley and with his children, Brandon and

Mike Henley and with his children, Brandon and Courtney. (Jan. 5, 2005) Credit: Handout

Karen Henley continues to care for her husband, Mike, at home. Now in his eighth year of the disease, Mike's health continues to slowly decline. He has lost weight and seems to eat more slowly, but he is holding his own for now. Karen continues to worry about his comfort, never wanting him to feel scared or alone.

In June, Courtney graduated from high school and is now living on campus at Hofstra University. Even though Courtney received a substantial scholarship, her mother still pays $13,000 a year toward tuition and other costs. The family's rocky financial situation prevented Courtney from attending her dream school, Fordham University - which would have cost $15,000 more per year, Karen Henley says - but Courtney is still working toward her goal of becoming a film director.

Brandon, who is now a high school junior, has become Karen's second-in-command of caregiving, helping her get Mike ready for bed at night. He has taken on the role with pride and is also forging ahead with his dream of becoming a doctor.

"There are times that I feel like a failure, for not being there for them 'full time' when they needed me," Karen says of her children. "I second- guess myself all the time, even though Courtney and Brandon tell me they wouldn't have it any other way. I feel like we all missed their childhood."

Karen continues to struggle to pay the bills and keep her home afloat. On her most trying days, she credits her faith in God as the reason she manages to keep going.

"I know we will come through this stronger, but these eight years have taken their toll," she says. "I pray that Courtney and Brandon will do well in college and that they are able to pursue their dreams."