I was extremely honored to be contacted by Cameron who wanted to share his story of hope through my blog. I was moved not only by his story, but also by how closely it touched my heart.
Caring for my Wife Through Her Cancer
My wife, Heather, and I are never going to forget November 21, 2005. On this day, she received the diagnosis of cancer. To be specific, she had malignant pleural mesothelioma. I can’t say that I was prepared to become a caregiver to someone with cancer, but it is what I did. Only three months before, we welcomed our daughter Lily into the world, and now, our situation seemed to be spiraling out of control.
Before we even left the doctor’s office, I already took on my role as the caregiver to someone with cancer. The doctor gave us three choices for treatment, and one of them was to see Dr. David Sugarbaker, a specialist in Boston. He was the best when it came to treating mesothelioma, but Heather was so frozen with fear that she didn’t know what to do. I made the decision that it was to Boston that we would go.
Our lives were drastically changed in the next two months. We had both been working full-time, but now I worked part-time, and Heather couldn’t work at all, which put a lot of strain on our finances and only added to the stress of our situation. I made travel arrangements, took care of Lily and tended to our home. I was overwhelmed and terrified that Heather would die, and my poor daughter would grow up without a mother. Still though, I remained strong in the presence of Heather, and I tried to overcome my dreadful feelings as quickly as possible.
From our closest family to complete strangers, we received help from so many people. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to other caregivers is this: If someone offers you help, take it. People are there who want to help, and they care about you. Let them. Take it from someone who learned the hard way: there is no room for pride in a battle with cancer.
No matter how much help you receive, I have to be honest that being a caregiver to someone with cancer is tough. You are going to experience a myriad of emotions, and you’ll certainly know that it’s the toughest test you’ll ever have. Unlike other challenges you may face, you cannot just quit or walk away. You must try to prevent your negative emotions from taking over. Of course, have those bad days, they’re inevitable and often necessary, but never lose your hope and faith.
Even after years, life was still in the process of returning to normal. Seven years have passed since her mesothelioma diagnosis, and after all of the surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Heather is now cancer free.
Throughout this time, I learned to utilize my stubborn personality, and I also realized that life is extremely precious. Two years after my wife was diagnosed, I returned to school to study Information Technology while I was also working full-time and looking after Heather and Lily.
Due to the lessons I learned through Heather’s battle with cancer, I was quite prepared for my return to school. Graduating with high honors, I was the speaker at my graduation, and I spoke about Heather’s cancer diagnosis. I never thought that I would be in this position. I gave my speech, and I recalled the importance of never giving up hope and realizing our own internal power. Within each of us is the strength to accomplish incredible things, as long as we never give up hope, and always keep fighting for the ones we love.
Cameron and Heather live with their daughter Lily in Roseville, MN. Cameron works as a network analyst at U.S. Bank. Both Cameron and Heather now work with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance to bring awareness and support to people with this deadly disease.
If you would like to contact him with any questions or to just share love and encouragement, please visit his blog at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/.