Today’s blog comes from guest blogger Cameron Von St. James. Cameron writes on the lessons he learned while his wife battled cancer. Yes. I said battled. She won. She kicked cancer to the curb 7 years ago and told it never to return.
The Lessons I Learned From My Wife Having Cancer
November 21, 2005 was the day when my wife, Heather, was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. I was devastated, but I had no choice but to step up and be my wife’s caregiver. Just three months earlier, Heather had given birth to our first and only child, our daughter Lily. Instead of celebrating her first holiday season, we were beginning a long, difficult journey to beat cancer.
Heather couldn’t work after she was diagnosed, and I had to scale back to part time. I had many responsibilities that wouldn’t allow me to keep a full time job. I had to make my wife’s doctor’s appointments. I had to take care of my daughter, and I had to make travel arrangements to Boston, where Heather would receive treatment from a renowned mesothelioma specialist. I was overwhelmed with my responsibilities, and despite my best efforts to remain positive, sometimes my fears got the best of me. I couldn’t help but picture the worst-case scenario, my wife dying and me being left alone and broke to raise a daughter who would never know her mother. There were many days that I felt I couldn’t go on.
It is difficult to cope with cancer without a support group of friends, family, and strangers. These people provided financial assistance and comforting words to help us get through the tough times. My strongest advice to any caregiver or cancer patient is to accept every offer of help and support that comes your way. I had to learn the hard way that there is no room for pride in a cancer fight. Even the smallest offer of help can be a weight off your shoulders, and will remind you that you are not alone in the fight.
Being a caregiver is difficult, there is no getting around that. It’s a job that you cannot walk away from. To get through it with your sanity, use all the resources available to you, and it will be easier. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Allow yourself to have bad days, but above all else, never give up hope for a better tomorrow.
After Heather received mesothelioma chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, we started the process of recovery. Against all odds, she beat this terrible disease, and has been without cancer for seven years now. We hope that our story of success in the face of cancer can help inspire others currently struggling through their own cancer battles. Never give up hope, and never stop fighting for the ones you love.
You can read more of Cameron’s posts at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/