Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A guest post from Cameron

I received an email from Cameron, who I have never met, who asked if he could post his story, and the story of his wife Heather, on my blog - it is inspirational and I applaud Heather and Cameron's courage:
 A Cancer Story with a Happy Ending

Seven years ago, my wife Heather and I went through something so difficult and life changing that I look back on it with a mix of disbelief and calm understanding. On November 21st, 2005, my wife was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. It's an extremely deadly kind of cancer, and we were shocked. It came when we were celebrating a gift, our first child Lily. We were about to celebrate the holidays with our new family, but in a moment it all came to a halt. My wife had cancer, and I was now her caregiver.

Being a caregiver for someone with cancer is different than any other experience I've had. Nothing prepared me for what she would go through and what I would feel beside her. My experience started as soon as we received the diagnosis when we had to make choices about her treatment. The doctor said that while we had some options, our best shot was with a specialist. He mentioned a local university hospital, a regional hospital that was very good but didn’t have a developed mesothelioma program, or a specialist in Boston named Dr. David Sugarbaker. He may have given us three choices, but there was only one choice for my wife. I said, "Get us to Boston" as soon as he spoke the name. I was going to save my family.

For months after, life was in complete mayhem. I didn't have time to think most days, but when I did, I realized that this treatment might not save my wife. It's a harsh thought to deal with and I struggled with it everyday. My daily routine was chaotic as best. If I wasn't doing something for work, it was something for my wife or taking care of Lily. There were still every day things that needed to be handled in addition to the late nights spent by my wife's side. I quickly became overwhelmed with all of these new responsibilities.

But, help comes when you need it the most. Nothing could be more true than the saving grace we received from family and friends. I didn't know it at the time but I was being looked after, even by people who barely knew me, but they became my friends. Heather's family really enabled us to get through these times. They offered child care and financial help, two things which made the ordeal bearable and easier. I'll never forget what my friends and family did for my family. If there is one thing I learned through this struggle, it is to always accept help when it is offered.  There is no room for pride when a loved one’s life is on the line.  The help I received allowed us to make it through.

After intense mesothelioma treatment, involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiation over the course of months, my wife beat mesothelioma and has been cancer-free for over seven years.  We hope that our story of hope and perseverance through cancer can be a source of inspiration for all those currently fighting today.

Thanks Cameron, for this great story - and for giving us hope!