I was contacted a few weeks ago by a gentleman named Cameron, who has recently had the experience of supporting his wife through her own battle with cancer. He asked if I might post his words about his experiences as a caregiver. Of course I said yes, this being a subject dear to my heart, thanks to the stellar level of love and support Pol has offered me throughout my treatment so far.
Alas, chemo has been a bit rough lately for me, and I did not get to it as soon as I would have liked. Cameron and his wife recently held a fundraiser for mesothelioma. I didn’t get this post out in time to help with that effort, and I apologize to Cameron for that. I’ve asked him to post donation info in the comments for anyone who might be interested.
Anyway, without further ado, here are Cameron’s words:
Supporting my Wife During Her Battle with Cancer
On November 21, 2005 my wife and I were shocked to learn she had malignant pleural mesothelioma. Three months before, our first child Lily was born. We had been getting ready to celebrate our first Christmas with Lily when Heather’s diagnosis turned our lives upside down.
The doctor gave us information on mesothelioma and care giving for cancer patients. He advised discussing available treatments and gave us three options: a nearby university hospital, a nearby first-rate hospital with an undeveloped mesothelioma treatment program, or Dr. David Sugarbaker, a mesothelioma specialist in Boston. Heather sat silently, too shocked to know what to do. I wasted no time and jumped in, telling the doctor, “Get us to Boston!”
The following two months were chaos. I cut work down to part time and Heather had to quit altogether. My list of obligations and responsibilities grew as I visited doctors, arranged trips, traveled to Boston and cared for Lily. Fear of losing Heather and living on the street with Lily brought me to the floor in tears on many occasions, but I did my best to remain strong whenever I was around Heather. She needed me to be strong and that’s exactly what I intended to be.
Family, friends and strangers blessed us with soothing words and kind offers of help. We could never thank them enough. My best advice for anyone struggling through a similar situation would be to always accept help whenever its offered. It’s one less thing you need to worry about, and it will remind you that you’re not alone in the fight.
Caring for someone with cancer is challenging. It’s a job you cannot leave. Resist feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. Tell yourself bad days are normal and inevitable, remain hopeful, and utilize resources that can help you move forward and keep your sanity.
Heather is cancer free now. She beat the odds with intensive mesothelioma surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Years later, our lives are fairly back to normal.
This nightmare made me remember time’s value. I returned to school to study Information Technology full time two years after the diagnosis, and I worked full time then and took care of my wife and daughter.
Learning how to cope with stress and manage my obligations in a timely manner as I combated cancer with Heather made me ready for school. Five years later, I finished with high honors and gave a graduation speech. Before that day and after Heather’s diagnosis, I never would have thought it possible. Remain hopeful and confident because all of us have the ability to attain what some call impossible. Heather and I hope that by sharing our story, we can inspire others in their own battles with cancer.