Posts tagged ‘cancer’

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

Other Stuff – Starting with C

“You have a growth in your bowel and it’s probably cancerous.”

I couldn’t believe that I had heard correctly. My hand crept out from under the blanket and gripped the hand of my husband, Timo, who was sitting beside me. It’s not true; this isn’t happening to me; I’m never ill; were some of the thoughts that went through my mind. I focussed on the word “probably” and gained comfort from that. Timo, however, heard only the word “cancer”.

For the past several weeks I had felt tired and off-colour, quite unlike my usual self. I’d taken more sick days off work than normal and eventually decided to visit my GP and tell him that I was feeling “bleagh”. He sent me for blood tests which indicated that I was anaemic and as a result he decided that I should have a colonoscopy and gastroscopy to try and determine the cause.

Preparation for a colonoscopy is extremely unpleasant. You have a drink a liquid which doesn’t taste too bad at first, but this has to be repeated again an hour later after your insides have stated to work fast and furiously. I gagged after half a glassful and just couldn’t take any more. Then I started eliminating from both ends at the same time!

Come morning I was exhausted and couldn’t face taking a third glass of the liquid. Timo drove me to Joondalup Hospital and had me ensconsed in Day Surgery where the nursing staff couldn’t have been nicer and more positive. I remember one who had to ask me various questions about possible contact with swine flu or mad cow disease; when she came ticking the latter on the admissions form she said, “No mad cow tho’ she sometimes feels like one”. That raised a laugh and helped to alleviate my trepidation about the procedure.

I didn’t have long to wait before I was wheeled into the theatre and within seconds I was asleep, coming round to feel thirsty and hungry but not able to have more than water for a little while. I longed for the promised sandwich and cup of tea but had to wait until what seemed like ages. I didn’t realise that anyone was avoiding telling me the results, I just wanted my tea and sandwich. Only after Timo returned to sit by me did the doctor tell us the awful news. and advise us that it was probably hereditary and I would need to tell all my close relatives.

I was in a daze when we returned home. I made an appointment to see my GP the following day, Friday,  and he advised a CT scan the next morning and made an appointment for me to see a surgeon the following week. Monday June 1 was a public holiday in Western Australia so nothing could be done until after the long weekend.

The surgeon was very positive about the wholel thing telling me that colon cancer is one of the easiest to treat and he had every confidence in being able to remove all traces of the cancer (by then it was a probability, not a possibility). I was booked into Glengarry Hospital for an operation on the following Tuesday and just had to wait. I was so glad that I had some pretty nighties and an attractive dressing gown so didn’t have to go shopping for those.

Wednesday I returned to work to break the news to my boss and colleagues. I didn’t want them all pussy-footing around me so told them bluntly what had occurred and what the stakes were. I also said that I had absolutely no intetion of letting this disease get the better of me and with my good old Taurean stubbornness I was ready to fight!

June 27, 2009 at 2:51 pm 4 comments