Learning From My Caregiver Experience

On November 21, 2005, my life changed forever. This was the day that my lovely wife Heather was diagnosed with cancer. Her particular type of cancer was malignant pleural mesothelioma (http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/types/pleural.htm), a very rare and extremely deadly form. Once our doctor explained mesothelioma to us, we realized how dangerous this type of cancer is. We were given three options for treatment and we chose the option that led us to Dr. David Sugarbaker in Boston. Dr. Sugarbaker was experienced in treating mesothelioma patients and we wanted only the best for Heather. All I could do was pray that this man would be able to help my wife.

While were receiving the news of Heather’s dire diagnosis, I looked over at my wife and I could see the terror on her face. I knew we had to get to Boston quickly to ensure that she got help as soon as possible so she could beat this disease. Everything seemed to be happening so quickly. Just before being told about the disease, we were a very happy family who had been spending time with our three month old daughter, Lily. Then, everything changed at once and we were suddenly facing this unexpected event in life.

During Heather’s endless rounds of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation treatments, I felt myself wavering and wondering how we would ever make it through the ordeal. I often feared the worst, and wondered if my wife would die and leave me a poor, widowed single father.

Luckily, we didn’t have to walk this path alone. I am so grateful to the people who helped us in many ways. Our friends and family reached out to us and provided us with so much valuable support. If anyone finds himself in a caregiver situation, I strongly recommend talking to people about your worries and accepting help whenever it is offered. With these things going for us, we were able to defeat the disease and put our lives back together.

It has now been more than seven years since we were told Heather had mesothelioma. I am so happy to say that she is fully recovered and our lives are getting back to normal. Not only are we doing okay now, we have actually thrived in the face of these challenges. While there were so many difficult times throughout the entire treatment journey, we were surrounded by amazing people who were diligent supporters to us.

Two years after the mesothelioma diagnosis (http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/diagnosis/), I went back to college and studied Information Technology. Before being a caregiver to Heather during her cancer, I never thought I could have gone back to school. But I learned so much about myself through my caregiving experience and it has given me a new confidence and a new level of commitment and strength.

To all those fighting cancer today, this will likely be the greatest challenge you’ll ever face. Use your resources, do your best to stay positive, and never, ever lose hope for a better tomorrow. There can be a happy ending to your story.

Cameron Von St James