Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meeting the Challenge of Cancer and Care-giving

Another guest blogger!  Enjoy!

There have been numerous times when my wife made the comment to me that she cannot fathom the things I went through when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I’m writing this to shed some light on my experience as a caregiver for her during her illness.

Our daughter, Lily, was born just three months before the mesothelioma diagnosis. After the birth of our daughter, we were radiant and hap

py and were enjoying our new, beautiful family. Suddenly, we were tossed into a sea of worry and uncertainty when my wife received her unexpected diagnosis. I recall looking at my tearful wife and wondering how we were going to survive this period of our lives. It all seemed so frightening and daunting to us as new parents.

Shortly after the diagnosis, I went through an emotional state that was pure outrage at this turn of events. I cursed and shouted and felt completely helpless. My anger got the best of me for a bit; but I soon realized I needed to be strong and stable for my family because they needed me now more than ever. This realization hit home and while I still had my moments of weakness, I did my best to be a solid rock my wife and daughter could depend on.

Once the diagnosis was given, I had a huge to-do list. My regular responsibilities of work, taking care of household chores and helping with our daughter were added to significantly. On top of these tasks, I also began helping my wife with basic care, making regular travel arrangements and scheduling frequent appointments. It was a lot to deal with, but I kept my priorities focused and became determined to accomplish each task set in front of me. I also had a lot of help from the community and family members. I am truly not sure what I would have done without the remarkable outpouring of support that was offered to our family.

Following Heather’s surgery in Boston, the next two months were incredibly hard on me. It is difficult for my wife to imagine what I went through during this time frame. After her surgery, Heather flew to South Dakota to be with her parents while she recuperated and prepared for her next round of mesothelioma treatment. Her parents had watched Lily while we were in Boston during Heather’s surgery. While Heather was recuperating, I only got to see her and my daughter one time during their stay in South Dakota. This was harder on me than I can put into words.

The obligation of maintaining my job while being separated from my family was really hard on me. I made a long drive to visit them one weekend and then returned home to work again. Looking back now, I know we had to face difficult choices while my wife was going through treatment, but I am grateful we still had options. Through all of our struggles, Heather is still here and still healthy over six years later. I hope
that our story can be a source of hope and help to those currently battling cancer.

About the author:

"Cameron is husband to Heather Von St. James, survivor advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, and father to Lily Rose. He, along with Heather and young Lily, had their world's turned upside down when Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, just 3 1/2 months after the birth of his only child. When faced with the very real possibility of raising Lily on his own, he fought alongside Heather in her battle with mesothelioma.
Like Heather, Cameron is passionate about bringing awareness to mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure. It is his hope that sharing his story will help others those battling cancer and their caregivers who provide them care and guidance in their journey."

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