Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Adopting the Role of Spouse Caretaker-Anita Natali’s Story

Mrs. Anita McGinn Natali

Artist, wife, mother, care giver, and advisor, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA, Volunteer, National Oral Cancer Foundation


AnitaAnita is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a professionally trained Fine Art Painter, with a BFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. She was a single Mom to two teenage sons working as an Art Director when she met Clark Natali in 1993. Five years later, in 1998, Anita and Clark married on a gorgeous October day surrounded by their family and friends. Throughout their relationship, Anita and Clark enjoyed skiing, traveling, boating, golfing, and spending summers at the shore. In 2003, Anita retired from pharmaceutical advertising to pursue painting full time. In 2007, when Clark was diagnosed with oral cancer, Anita became her husband’s caregiver, helping him through a serious health crisis that would last more than 5 years.

Today, Anita is a volunteer and Co-Chair on the Patient and Family Advisory Council at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she donates her oil paintings to The Oral Cancer Foundation to help raise funds for awareness, prevention, and education. Anita is profoundly grateful to the people of HUP and OCF for their continued care and support for her husband and herself.


Care giving a spouse over a 5 year period is not an assignment that Anita could have ever imagined. She discusses the many challenges she faced and surmounted and how she did it.

3 Key Points:

  1. Caretaking is a full time job.
  2. Nurses at bedside in the acute care setting before husband was discharged taught Anita basic care techniques that she could do at home such as feeding, sanctioning, wound care, and monitoring of healing.
  3. Personal isolation and taking care of self is mandatory to survive the experience.

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