Knowing that there is life after cancer is so important for those who have just been diagnosed or those who are still fighting and need that extra boost of hope to keep going.
It is also important to have a strong and loving support system behind you, and that is what Cameron Von St. James was for his wife Heather as she fought her battle with Mesothelioma. Like my Dad, she was given a poor prognosis; however, she fought the good fight, and is still here today to give that message of hope to others.
Read Cameron's article below. Please share with anyone you know who is fighting cancer and with their loved ones...
How I Overcame My Wife's Battle With CancerOn November 21, 2005, my wife, Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Our lives became chaotic at a time when I thought I would be celebrating. Heather had just given birth to our first and only child a few months before, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled to be planning for Lily’s first Christmas. Instead, life gave us different plans, and we were contemplating my wife's treatment options.After the diagnosis, we learned as much as we could about the diagnosis. When we received recommendations for treatment, we had three choices: a region hospital, a great local hospital, or Dr. David Sugarbaker, a specialist in mesothelioma treatment. We chose the specialist and decided to go to Boston for a meeting with him.After the decision, the next two months were chaotic. Before the diagnosis, both Heather and I worked full-time. After she was diagnosed, she ceased working, and I only worked part-time. This put a lot of strain on our financial situation and only added to the stress we were experiencing after the diagnosis. I spent an enormous amount of time at my wife’s doctor’s appointments, making travel arrangements to Boston, caring for Lily, our house, the pets, my job – the responsibilities were overwhelming.I often feared that I would lose my wife and be left to raise our daughter alone. I was worried that I would end up a broke and penniless widower trying to fight my wife’s cancer. I often broke down and sobbed uncontrollably and wished it would all go away. When I thought of how much Heather needed me, I realized that I had to get over my feeling of helplessness and be strong for Heather. Even in my weak moments, I never let her see me break down. I knew that the last thing she needed was to see my fears.Heather and I received significant help from family and friends. We received kind words, meals, and even financial assistance from our community. Heather and I were so grateful and can never fully express how thankful we were to have them in our lives. We advise anyone in a similar situation to accept any help offered to them. I was too proud at first to accept many of these kind offers, but when I finally learned to accept help a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. If nothing else, it will remind you that you are not alone in the fight.Being a caregiver is challenging work. For me, it was the most difficult test that I have ever had to face. The time was filled with despair, uncertainty and chaos. It is one of the only challenges I have ever faced that I did not have the option to quit. On the bad days, I had to remember that those days would be small and insignificant compared to the life we had ahead of us.Though it took years to return to normalcy, I am glad I continued the fight. It has been seven years, and after intense mesothelioma treatment involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, Heather is cancer-free to this day. We hope that by sharing our story of success and hope, we can inspire others currently fighting cancer today to never give up, and to always keep fighting.
You can read more about Cameron and Heather at their blogs below:
Thanks again to Cameron and Heather, for sharing your story and for being such an inspiration to others!