Posts tagged ‘asbestos’

Helping my wife through Cancer by Cameron Von St. James

I’ll never forget the day when my wife was diagnosed with malignant pleural
mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by
asbestos exposure. On this day, I also became her caregiver, which was something
I wasn’t prepared for. Only three months before this, our daughter, Lily, was born.
We were excited about celebrating our baby’s first holiday season, but soon after,
our lives took a drastic turn for the worse, and we started down a long and difficult
road to beat this terrible disease.

The full implications of playing caregiver to my wife hit me almost immediately after
the doctor gave us the diagnosis. The doctor gave us some information on
mesothelioma and recommended that we see a specialist. We chose to go to Boston
to see an expert in the disease.

The two months following that were horrible. My wife and I had held full-time jobs
before this incident, but she was now unable to work and my hours were cut to part
time. When I wasn’t working, I was taking my wife to doctor’s appointments, caring
for our daughter and arranging travel. I was overwhelmed. I feared that my wife
would die, that we would spend every cent we had fighting it and that I’d end up
alone, homeless and broke with a baby. However, I needed to be strong for my wife,
so I hid my despair as best I could and tried to remain positive for my family.

We were lucky to have so much help from both loved ones and strangers. We’ll
never be able to repay them for their kindness. The best advice I can give to people
who are in our situation is that if someone offers to help you, you should accept it.
No matter how big or small the favor is, it’s one less thing you have to stress yourself
with. There is no doubt that caring for someone with cancer is hard. It will probably
be the hardest thing you’ll ever deal with. It’s essential that you don’t allow your fear
and despair control or overwhelm you. It’s okay to have bad days. After all, nobody
is perfect. However, don’t ever lose hope for a better tomorrow.

Heather endured months of grueling mesothelioma chemotherapy, surgery and
radiation treatments in the attempt to beat her cancer. It took a long time for our lives
to regain some semblance of normalcy. My wife, against the odds, managed to beat
mesothelioma and is still alive and healthy today. My experience with this has
reminded me of how precious our time is. After struggling through this whole ordeal,
I felt well-equipped to go back to college for information technology a dream I never
thought I’d see come true. I graduated with high honors and was my class student
speaker. During my speech I said that if you’d asked me what I’d be doing in five
years, I never would have guessed that I’d be on stage giving my speech. I told my
classmates that no matter what they’d face in their lives, to never lose hope and that
we’re all capable of accomplishing far more than we think if we have faith in
ourselves. Heather and Lily were in the audience to cheer me on, and that was the
greatest reward of all.

February 16, 2013 at 11:27 am Leave a comment