Tag Archives: Health

Guest Blog: The Lessons I Learned From My Wife Having Cancer

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/


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Growing up with Asthma

I do enjoy a hot summer day. A day with so much heat it feels like the air conditioning isn’t working and I enjoy how the heat makes my back less achy from past injuries.  I love how the warmth embraces me.

What I don’t enjoy is smog. Smog is evil for people with lung conditions like me.  I have asthma and breathe smog every day. Sure, a lot if people have varying degrees of asthma and many different triggers but I have not met someone yet whose asthma is as severe as mine.

I commute to work on public transit. Each day when I walk from the train station to my office I can’t breathe properly by the time I reach my destination. I have to walk through the covered station that is full of carbon monoxide from the idling trains. Once I have reached outside, I then have to weave around all the smokers lighting up and try not to inhale their nasty habit as we all head in the same general direction. All this is after I have sat in a train full of people for 45 minutes who must bath in perfume and colognes for whatever reasons. My chest is already “tight” at this point and by the time I am in my office, I am officially out of breath and wheezy. I don’t panic. I don’t use my rescue inhaler. My asthma is under control and I know that using proper breathing techniques while sitting at my desk are much better to relieve the symptoms instead of taking more drugs.  Then, at the end of the day, I do it all over again.

When I was young, the doctors thought I had cystic fibrosis.  Only after multiple “sweat” tests were conducted, they were convinced it was asthma.  I used to go to breathing classes.  I got so sick at one point when I had the chicken pox, I ended up hospitalized with a partially collapsed lung and on oxygen.  I got to know the nurses names at the ER because of my frequent asthma attacks when I was little.  I could not play outside in the winter without starting to have an asthma attack.  I could not run without an asthma attack.  I still can’t run…  My asthma is not just allergy or environmental.  My asthma always has and always will be chronic.  It is managed asthma though.  Sure, I have to take meds twice daily, but that’s no big deal.  I get to keep breathing.

If I ever had a chance to change my past, I wouldn’t do it.  Growing up with a respiratory disease has made me who I am and I like me.  If I didn’t have asthma, I would never have learned how to sew, crochet, do embroidery work, cross-stitch or build a doll house using real tools, etc.  I would never have learned my love of home improvement if I didn’t have all those magazines and tonnes of craft projects.  I would never know how people with other lung disorders would feel.  I would never know how my Grandpa feels not being able to breathe properly due to lung cancer.  I would not be the strong woman I am today and I don’t believe I would be as understanding and patient as I am today.



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Cancer Sucks

I have no sewing stories to tell today.  I apologize for my mini-rant.

I am really sick of cancer.  I fortunately, do not have it.  I do however, know many people who do and it’s just not right.

My Grandfather

A friend from college

A friends brother-in-law just passed away from its complications.

Lady I used to work with had a double mastectomy.  Another lady had cervical cancer.

Cancer sucks.  That’s all I have to say.


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