Friday, February 22, 2013

Learning to Care: How We Made It Through Cancer

So... I said I was going to do this on Thursday, but I was asleep most of the day and then had an appointment.  Sorry!  I'm going to make this a Friday event thing on the blog now.  If you have a story to share just email me.

This story is from Cameron about his wife's and his story on their struggle with life and cancer.  I think it's a story that needs to be shared.

On November 21st, 2005, my wife and I started a journey that would prove to be one of the most difficult challenges we’d ever face. This is the day that my wife was diagnosed with cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was also the moment in my life when I was no longer just a husband. I became a caregiver for someone who had cancer. I wasn't necessarily prepared for this kind of a job, but I did everything that I could to be there for my wife. It came at a strange time in our lives. We were just starting to figure out how to parent a newborn, our first and only. Our daughter Lily was born just three months before my wife's diagnosis.

I started my job as a caregiver the moment that my wife found out she had cancer. I was with her in the doctor's office, and the look on her face sent me into a panic. I didn't know what we were going to do as the doctor talked about treatment options. There were three different places that we could go, one of which was a specialist named Dr. David Sugarbaker in Boston. My wife was too shocked and paralyzed by fear to consider any of these options, and I knew that I had to make a decision for my family. I turned to the doctor and said, “Get us to Boston!”  Soon after, my wife would begin treatment there, and there would be a lot of questions about how we were going to survive as a family.

The next few months were chaotic for my family. I was still working or at least, trying to work. I had so much stress from the bills, taking care of Lily while also taking care of my wife that I wasn't really sure how I got through those first few months. I wasn't at my best all the time, and despite my best efforts to stay positive I often imagined the worst case scenario, my wife passing away and leaving me a broke, widowed single father with a daughter who would never really know her mother. These were the darkest of days, and more than once I broke down crying under the pressure.  However, despite having these weak moments I never let Heather see my fears.  I knew she needed me to be strong for her.

My wife's family is extremely caring. They came through for us at a time when we needed them most. Not only did they provide financial support for us during a really hard time but they helped take care of Lily, and offered kind words of encouragement to help us get through the rough times.

If you are a caregiver in a similar situation, take these lessons from someone who has been there before.  Don’t’ be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.  Allow yourself to have bad days, these are inevitable and even necessary at times.  Use every resource available to you, and above all else never, ever give up hope for a better tomorrow.

After months of grueling mesothelioma treatment, Heather came out the other side cancer-free, and has remained so for nearly seven years.  We hope that by sharing our experiences, we can help inspire all those currently in their own cancer battles today. 

Cameron has a blog of his own that if any of you care to read more about what his and his family have been dealing with and continue to deal with, here's the link:

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