/Eileen Benthal

About Eileen Benthal

Eileen Benthal is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Their youngest, Johanna, is a teenager with special needs. Eileen can be reached at FreeIndeedFreelance.com.

Cancellation of health insurance leaves local family with special-needs child ‘in the lurch’

The troubled implementation of the Affordable Care Act is threatening one local family with the loss of coverage they've relied upon for years. Eileen Benthal, of Jamesport, will speak about her predicament to Sean Hannity for a segment to air this afternoon on his radio talk show. [The segment will air at 4 p.m. on his WABC radio, 770 AM.] Her daughter, Johanna, 17, has undergone 86 surgeries since she was diagnosed at three months old with a rare genetic neurological disease that causes tumors to grow in her brain. Her parents' insurance plan has always covered her care, soaring to at least $100,000 per year in medical expenses. With the new rules and surrounding confusion, that coverage hangs in the balance. "I was in my daughter's hospital room when I was on the phone with the insurance company and they told me our plan would be terminated," Benthal said. [...]

2014-09-07T20:39:14+00:00 November 15th, 2013|Categories: In The Media|0 Comments

Finding peace, even in Manhattan traffic

Most of us think of peace as the absence of conflict, a period of quiet or a feeling that sweeps over us when everything is going well. When we look at peace through the lense of scripture and try to understand God’s perspective, peace is so much more. The Hebrew word for peace is “Shalom” which implies a state of being; of complete restoration and wholeness. It is understood that one can only experience this sense of wholeness when we are in relationship with God. Isaiah 26:3 says: “A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace for its trust is in you.” Shalom, rather than a fleeting feeling is a place to dwell “in peace” because when we make it our firm purpose to trust God, we will be living in a place of peace. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel like I [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 November 10th, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Acknowledging ‘things unseen’

Have you ever felt a tug on your heart and emotions, feeling a sense of grief creeping in that you just can’t explain? Then, when you look at a calendar, you realize that it marked a time of great loss in your life? I had that same experience while walking up 33rd Avenue in Manhattan this past week, as Johanna was in NYU hospital recovering from a recent surgery. I left the hospital to take a walk, to clear my head and feel the crisp fall air hit my face. Johanna was resting in the PICU, but not comfortably. We were all concerned about the pain in her head and watching the intricate system which monitored the pressure in her brain, hoping the new shunt would work well and give us all some reprieve. As I walked, I became aware of this grief tugging at the my consciousness. It was [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 November 2nd, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments


I distinctly remember the prayer; I prayed it often. “Lord make me holy. Make our marriage and family holy. Do whatever you have to do in our lives to make us truly holy.” The prayer was inspired by a sense of complacency. My husband and I were in full-time ministry, raising a family with Gospel values, yet something was missing. We seemed to have our fill of God; we served Him and His people, lived simply and raised our kids with a knowledge and experience of faith in the context of community. Yet the cry of my heart, indeed my deepest desire was for holiness. Scripture says that the Lord fills our deepest desires and answers the delights of our hearts. It just doesnʼt tell us how. Johanna was born one month after our 10th year wedding anniversary. She was our celebration baby. The two older kids were 9, 6 [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 October 23rd, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Dear God, Why?

“The whole genome SNP analysis detected an interstitial duplication of the chromosomal segment listed above.” This was the first line of a very complicated report on genetic testing for my daughter, Johanna. This was not an email I wanted to read before Iʼve had my cup of coffee. Recently, I was in a discussion with the geneticist who ordered these tests. As he rattled off terms like those in the sentence above, I bit my tongue not to say; “Itʼs all Greek to me.” This renowned doctor is Greek, so I didnʼt think the expression would impress him. At this point in the progression of Johannaʼs disease, we are seeing more debilitating effects on her brain and her whole body. When she was first diagnosed with cavernomas in her brain, there was only one article in a medical journal. Then five years and numerous brain surgeries later, there were a [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 September 22nd, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Courage: the will to go on

As we weaved through the line, images of 9/11 dotted the walkway in signs and pamphlets, evoking those stored in the recesses of my brain. It was our first visit to the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the former World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan. Knowing we were scheduled for doctor appointments on Sept. 10, I downloaded passes to the memorial and planned our visit for that day. It was a good way to honor the memory of those who lost their lives on the fateful day, while reflecting on the value of human life. As we walked around the reflection pools with the names of the lost etched in the tapered edges, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of courage. Every name represented a courageous person who faced a terrifying end. Whether they were rescuers forging ahead into the burning Twin Towers or passengers aboard Flight [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 September 15th, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Faith, hope and the miracle of a sunrise

I love a room with a view, especially if it is a hospital room. While NYU Medical Center may not pass as a five-star hotel, some of the views certainly rival high rise hotels in Manhattan. When Johanna is admitted to the hospital, I pray not only for her healing and welfare, but also for a bed by the window. It’s the little things in life that make it all worth it. The sun was rising over Kip’s Bay when I woke Johanna. She was admitted to the hospital the day before, scheduled for another surgery to correct a blockage in her shunt. I got her out of the hospital bed to look at the sunrise, before the transport people arrived to take her to surgery. “Look, Jo, it’s gonna be a great day!”, I said trying to convince myself even more than her. Johanna looked at the beautiful sun [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 September 1st, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Caregivers need care, too

I spent most of the yesterday in the emergency room with my daughter for symptoms of pressure in her brain. It wasnʼt where I wanted to be on one of the last days of summer, but it was exactly where God wanted me and I was glad for that. When these types of events interrupt my intended flow, I try to let go and let God do something different. Of course, my first concern is for my daughter, making sure that she is safe and comfortable and advocating for her needs within the healthcare system. From experience and from developing the art of reflection, I have learned to be observant and see if there may be new lessons to learn from these experiences. When I wheeled Johanna into the emergency room, it was empty. Relieved, I signed in at the desk. As soon we sat down, the empty waiting room [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 August 25th, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

The power of dreams

There was ocean all around me as far as my eyes could see. No land in sight, only a vast dark sea, with me in the middle of it treading water. While I was in the middle of these waters, I was also watching as an observer, a frequent experience of one in the midst of a nightmare. I could feel my heart pounding and my limbs tiring, and most of all, I could feel the weight of my newborn baby heavy in my arms. If only I could keep our heads above water, then maybe we would survive. I woke from this now-familiar nightmare drenched by a combination of sweat and milk leaking from my swollen breasts. My hands reached out to my newborn baby girl stirring beside me in bed. Instinctively, I pulled her close and settled her at the breast; relief flooded the two of us as [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48+00:00 August 18th, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments