Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Being My Wife's Partner in the Fight Against Cancer

In April of this year I received a comment on the post Cansir and how Mitch Alexander has overcome it. However since the book's release Mitch has informed me that the cancer is back and he needs all the support he can get. Do think of him in your prayers and if you are close to him visit, I am sure he would appreciate the call.

I responded to the mail address, wary to say the least since spammers do try to sell their products and information to me and I was pleased with the outcome.
Cameron Von St. James asked if he could post an article on my blog about his wife's cancer and his part in this life altering event.

Here is his thoughts 

Being My Wife's Partner in the Fight Against Cancer

November 21, 2005. The date is engraved in my mind, one I'll never forget. It's the day life changed instantly for my wife, Heather and me. It's the day the doctor told us she had malignant pleural mesothelioma. We were completely blindsided. It felt like being hit head-on, never seeing the crash coming. Only three months before, we'd been blessed with our baby girl, Lily, and thought we were on top of the world. The holidays were on the way, filling us with anticipation. Now, everything changed. Dread pressed down on us. I would now need to prepare to be a caregiver not only for my baby. I would need to take care of my wife in an effort to help her win the fight of her life.

The doctor told us about mesothelioma, a shocking diagnosis in itself. My wife was facing a rare form of cancer that incredibly deadly. She needed the best in care as soon as possible. The doctor gave us options: the local hospital, an excellent regional hospital that unfortunately did not specialize in her condition, or a specialist, Dr. David Sugarbaker in Boston. When asked a preference, my stunned wife couldn't even speak, still unable to process this nightmare we suddenly found ourselves in. I knew she needed help, and I stepped in. I would soon discover that I would have to take charge many times in the coming battle while my wife was overwhelmed by the assault on her body from the disease and treatments. I would have to find enough strength for both of us.  I told our doctor that we would make the trip to Boston to meet with the mesothelioma specialist.

Two months of insanity followed. There was no such thing as routine. Everything revolved around my wife's health crisis and getting the help she needed. Heather was no longer able to work and I had to cut my schedule to part time in order to take her to appointments, arrange trips to Boston, and find care for Lily. I found more and more responsibilities heaped on my shoulders. Often, I thought I would be crushed with fear for her and that I'd lose everything I cared for. I would find myself alone, breaking down completely. However, our greatest challenges in life teach us what we are made of and can endure. I found strength and made sure I never broke down in front of Heather. She needed someone to lean on.

I am so grateful for the network of caring individuals who banded together to help us in our time of need. Family and friends were a Godsend. Even complete strangers were there for us, giving us time, advice, and financial assistance. For anyone who is going through a similar struggle, accept help when it is given. Don't try to do it alone.  I had to learn quickly during our fight that there is little room for pride when you’re battling cancer.

I discovered that taking care of my wife would be the greatest challenge of my life. If you find yourself going into battle for your spouse, be strong. Accept your limitations. You are not a superhero and there will be times when you have a bad day. Pick yourself up again and get ready for the next day. Most importantly of all, always carry hope in your heart. You can be a beacon for your loved one, providing light in the darkness.

The fight took years and I'm still adjusting to this day. Heather, by some miracle, pulled through and is cancer free today. She went through the gamut of mesothelioma treatment, involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and survived it all. I'll never forget that time in our life. It has made us both appreciate every minute we are given.

Since that time, we fill every minute and live for the here and now. We know that life is fleeting. None of us know when it could change on the spin of a dime. We value each moment with our sweet little girl and each other. I even went back to school and headed to a new career because you have to do what you love to be happy. We have learned how important happiness is.

Fighting cancer with my wife gave me the resources to push myself and find out what I could do. Going back to school became a much easier goal to achieve. I graduated with honors, changed my career, and enjoy living with hope. My greatest advice for anyone else who is enduring this fight is to remain hopeful through it all. The war on cancer can be won especially when you go in it together.

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