Cameron Von St James contacted me through my email and asked me to share his story of his wife’s’ cancer journey which I am very happy to do.
My Caregiver Story: Helping My Wife Through Cancer
I will never forget the day that my wife was diagnosed with cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was just days before Thanksgiving in 2005. We had only been thinking of what we were grateful for at the time. The birth of our first and only child Lily had come only three months earlier. The news was so shocking to my family. How could Heather have this deadly cancer? At a time when we were most happy, everything fell apart.
I instantly became my wife’s caregiver when we heard the news. I was going to be there for her no matter what. Together, we went to the doctor’s office that day, not knowing what was going on with Heather’s health. When the doctor said mesothelioma, my wife froze. She was falling apart beside me and I with her, but I wasn’t going to show anything but love and support for her. The doctor was really clear on one point. Heather was not going to live past 15 months without treatment. He started to talk about different places where we could go to receive treatment, including local hospitals. However, what we really needed a mesothelioma specialist. I said to the doctor that we had to go to see the specialist in Boston named Dr. Sugarbaker, who was known for his work with mesothelioma patients. I had to believe that this man would be able to save my wife.
That day was the start of chaos. Heather was going to go through an intense surgery and treatment regimen. Mesothelioma takes about 95 percent of the people who have it. Knowing that, I faced each day as strong as I could be but often felt overwhelmed by what was happening to my family and to myself. I couldn’t take care of everything like I wanted to. I was working, helping Heather and taking care of a newborn. The stress compounded on some days with the doubts, and I found myself on the kitchen floor, sobbing. I had nightmares of what life could be like without Heather. I saw us spending all we had to save her and still losing her. However, I could never show these fears to Heather or anyone really. I had to be a rock for my family.
Help came when we needed it the most. Family, friends and even people we had never met heard of Heather’s story and wanted to do something. They gave in so many ways, both big and small, and we appreciated every offer of help we received. Heather’s parents were especially helpful. They helped us with childcare for Lily while Heather had her surgery, and even chipped in to help us pay our expensive medical bills. I don’t think that I ever could thank these people enough for what they did for my family. That was another huge lesson that I had to learn. You should always accept help when facing a crisis. In the beginning, I was reluctant to accept these offers of help, especially financial help. However, I had to learn that there is simply no room for pride in a battle with cancer. Every offer of help can lift a huge weight of your shoulders, and at the very least will remind you that you aren’t alone.
My family’s journey has proven that you can make it through dark days. Today, Heather is cancer free. She beat mesothelioma after undergoing months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I’ll always remember what it felt like to overcome this challenge with her. That’s what has made my family so strong all of these years, and it’s what will continue to make us strong enough to face other challenges. Now, we hope that by sharing our story we can help inspire others in their own battles today. Never give up hope, and never stop fighting for the ones you love.
Thanks again Cameron for sharing this with me and allowing me to publish this on my blog.