Saturday, June 29, 2013

Guest Post - Cameron - My Cancer Journey as a Caregiver for My Wife

In life, we often come across individuals who have been through incredible things.  Some of the stories are exciting, laughable, memorable while some are sad, frightening, heartbreaking.  Through this blog, I have hoped my journey provides people with a whole venue of emotions, ranging from laughter to inspiring.  A few months ago, I was contacted by someone who had come across my blog.  He shared the journey he has been through and its one that I am greatly touched by.  You see, being the patient/survivor is tough, but I think being the caregiver is even tougher and one that I am so grateful for in my own life.  I find it hard to put into words what it means to me to be surrounded by so much love, support and encouragement as I recovered from my brain tumor.  I will never understand what they each went through during those first few hours, days & weeks while my future seemed so uncertain.  I can think of five words to say: Thank You & I Love You! 

Here's Cameron's article below.  


My Cancer Journey as a Caregiver for My Wife

I will never forget November 21, 2005. This was the date of my wife, Heather's cancer diagnosis. She had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a very rare and extremely deadly form of cancer. I became her caregiver during this time, and I never expected to learn any of the lessons that came with it. Just when we thought everything was perfect for our family, things changed in an instant. Her diagnosis came only three months after the birth of our first and only child, Lily.

Becoming a caregiver began right when I learned of Heather's illness. We went to the doctor's office together. She had been feeling ill for many weeks, but we had no idea that this was going to be the result. When the doctor said mesothelioma, Heather simply froze. I didn't know what to do either, but I wasn't going to let my wife's treatment wait. As the doctor told me about our options, I knew the only way that Heather was going to beat this thing was with someone who know more about mesothelioma than anyone else. There was a specialist in Boston named Dr. David Sugarbaker. I could only hope that this man would be able to help Heather, as I turned to the doctor and told him to get us to Boston.

After her diagnosis, nothing was the same. Our plans for Lily’s first Christmas went out the window, and we began focusing on helping Heather heal. It was too difficult to be happy knowing that something so violent was happening inside of Heather's body. I did the best that I could on most days to help her. I was also working and taking care of Lily. She was still a newborn. My fears overwhelmed me thinking of what could happen to my family. I was afraid of losing everything and becoming widowed and homeless with my daughter. However, none of this was going to go away. I had to face what was coming and be strong for Heather. Even though I had breakdowns and moments of doubt, I knew I had to be strong for my family.

Help could not have come any sooner. Family, friends and people we didn't even know started to help us. I have never been able to fully thank all of the people who reached out to us during this difficult time. If someone offers to help, let them help you. This was one of the greatest lessons that I had to learn. I couldn't take on everything on my own, and had to let go of my stubborn pride. There were many people out there who wanted to contribute to Heather getting well.

There's nothing easy about being a caregiver for someone with cancer. A caregiver experiences so many emotions at once while also showing nothing on the outside but love and tenderness. For me, it was the toughest challenge that I have had yet in my journey. In life, you can walk away from a job or school, but when someone close to you is hurting, when they reach out for help, no matter what you are feeling, no matter how bad it gets, you have to be there. When I had bad days filled with doubts and when things fell into havoc, I sometimes found it hard to go on. I never gave up though, and that is another important lesson. You don't give up on your family or the hope that there will be a better day to come.

Those were the darkest times, but even in that darkness, I remembered a dream shared with my wife of holding our child together and raising her as the good parents we all try to be. Heather has been through so much. Her surgery, treatment and recovery have been shared with me. She is the strongest woman I know, and in the end she was able to defy the odds and beat this terrible disease. Today, over seven years since her heartbreaking mesothelioma diagnosis, we have a happy, healthy family. Now, we hope that by sharing our story of success over this terrible cancer, we can help inspire others in their own battles today.

Please feel free to visit to see a video they have made in Heather's own words.

Thank you Heather & Cameron for sharing your story with me, I am truly touched.

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