I have created this ‘Guest Articles’ page, to allow others who have been through, or are going through, a similar situation to share the benefit of their wisdom and experience.
If anyone wishes to write anything for this page, please contact me via the comments section below.
Guest Article 1 – Our Journey of Hope Through Cancer
By Cameron Von St. James
Recently my wife remarked that she doesn’t understand much about how I, as her husband and caregiver, coped with her mesothelioma diagnosis, and how she could not imagine the emotional toll it took on me. Being a caregiver to a loved one with cancer can be a difficult and draining task. I hope that this article can shed some light on the job a caregiver has, and help current cancer patients and their caregivers get through their tough situations.
Three months before my wife got sick, our daughter Lily was born. We went from being on top of the world, full of joy and excitement about the future of our new little family, to being devastated and distraught. When the doctor told us it was mesothelioma, my wife started to cry, and I thought to myself, “How are we going to make it through this?”. I was overcome with emotion and close to breaking down myself. When the doctor began explaining what our choices for treatment were, I came back to reality and accepted that my wife and I had a tough road full of very difficult decisions ahead.
Right after the diagnosis, I was very angry and afraid and often communicated with profanity at anyone in my path. I was angry at the world for putting my family in this cruel and unfair situation. I did not know how to control my emotions, although this did get better with time. I came to the realization that I had to be strong not only for my wife but our daughter as well. While I still had moments of weakness, I always put up a strong front in my wife’s presence. I wanted her to feel she could always lean on me and find hope and optimism.
One of my biggest immediate challenges was the long list of things that had to be done. This included our daughter’s care, arranging for travel and looking after the family pets, caring for Heather and holding down my full-time job. It was overwhelming, but it did teach me how to prioritize and ask others for help when I could not cope. We were lucky to have such wonderful people who offered to assist us during that difficult time. Despite this generosity, I still had moments of feeling very overcome by all the responsibility I was carrying.
The two-month period of time right after my wife’s extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery was the most draining part for me. Following the operation, Heather flew to South Dakota to stay with her parents in order to recover and prepare for the next phase of her treatment. Lily had been staying there during the surgery, which left me at home, alone, to work and take care of our house. I only saw my wife and daughter once during this time period. I left my work on Friday, drove eleven hours through a snowstorm and spent Saturday and early Sunday with them. I then had to turn around to drive eleven hours back so I could work on Monday.
While that time in our lives was very painful and challenging, I do not look back on it with regret. We had to make difficult decisions, and we had to learn to not second-guess those decisions, but rather to take comfort in the fact that we retained the ability to make decisions at all. We are grateful we were still able to make choices and to accept the help of many gracious and wonderful people. Six years later, my wife is still alive and well, despite the odds against her. We hope our story brings hope and comfort to others currently battling cancer.
(page last updated 17th November 2012)