This is an article written by Cameron Von St James who's wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma and he writes about his experience from a caregiver's perspective. Wanted to share his experience in hopes that someone who may be in a similar circumstance knows that they are not alone.
If you want to read more from Cameron, check out his blog at mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/
Thanks Cameron for contacting me and sharing your story. Both you and your wife are an inspiration!!! :)
Dealing With My Wife's Cancer
Cancer is a word that has the ability to strike fear into even the bravest people. It was a word I hoped I would never have to hear in connection with me or my wife Heather, and I certainly didn't think it would invade our lives in our mid-30s. However, cancer can strike at any time, and it struck us on November 21, 2005, just three months after the birth of our daughter Lily, when Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and extremely deadly form. The bliss of new parenthood gave way to the fear that I would have to raise our daughter alone.
I was terrified, to say the least, but I couldn't let myself be overwhelmed by my fears. I needed to stay strong for Heather, who had to leave her full-time job and devote herself to intrusive mesothelioma surgery, followed by a lengthy process of harsh chemo and radiation treatments. She had to undergo all of the physical trauma, but the experience drained me as well. I needed to find a way to balance being there for her with my job, where I had to cut back on my hours despite fears that we would not be able to keep our heads above water financially. Some days, that was very difficult.
The funny thing about cancer, though, is that it shows you just how much you can handle if you don't have any choice. As we found a new normal, we learned how to manage our time more effectively, and I was able to get much more done in a day than I would have thought possible. What's more, I learned how to swallow my pride and take help from people who were all too happy to give it. I never was one to accept charity from others, but the fact of the matter is that when you are dealing with cancer, you can use all of the help you can get. We needed people to take care of the baby, people to provide meals, people to just come in and spend a little time with Heather on days when I couldn't. So many people stepped up to the plate, and I don't know what we would've done without them. I'm so grateful to them all.
Heather went through an incredible ordeal, and I was so proud of the courage she showed in facing each challenge head-on. She first got her mesothelioma diagnosis seven years ago, and she doesn't have a trace of cancer in her now. Against the odds, she fought and recovered. You may be shocked at your own strength when that's what you have to rely on to get better.
This struggle also held valuable lessons for me in other areas of my life, and after our lives finally returned to normal, I decided to take the plunge and go back to school. I used the time management skills that I developed during those days of running back and forth to treatments, and I balanced work and school so well that I ultimately graduated as one of the top students in my class. Now I can do something that I love while providing for my family, all the while knowing that I need to cherish every moment with them because life can change very quickly. Don't give up on your dreams; look adversity in the eye and find out just how much you can accomplish.