I was contacted through my personal blog by Cameron, a husband who became a caregiver to his wife, who like all of us who blog here became very ill. He asked me to post his short story, and here it is.
Coming Face to Face with Reality
The gift of life is fragile and few may realize just how precious it can be. On November 21 of 2005, my life changed forever as it was the day that I had found out my wife Heather had malignant pleural mesothelioma. I went from husband and father to now a caregiver. Heather and I had just celebrated the birth of our daughter Lily several months before and had been planning our first holiday together as a family when our lives were turned upside down.
I was thrown into my new role as caregiver immediately. Our physician informed us about mesothelioma and what it entailed. He also gave us an assortment of treatment options, and I had to guide Heather toward making the first of many decisions. We ventured off to Boston to see Dr. David Sugarbaker, a doctor who specialized in mesothelioma. This began a long a difficult journey to rid Heather of her cancer.
The months that followed were a blur as our normal routines turned into chaos. Heather and I had held full-time positions before she was diagnosed with the disease. As we began our battle together, Heather could no longer work, and I could only work part-time in order to care for her and Lily. We were kept busy with physician appointments, traveling back and forth from Boston and taking care of our daughter Lily. My list of duties exceeded my ability to get things done, and I quickly became overwhelmed with responsibilities. I was kept awake by endless worry. What if Heather died? Would we be able to stay afloat financially? Would I end up a broke widower with a young child to care for? Feelings of helplessness overcame me on many occasions, and I had to find strength within myself to stay positive for my family. Not only did I want to fight for Heather and be her rock, I needed to be just as strong for our daughter Lily.
Heather and I had a wealth of family and friends who helped us every step of the way with everything from words of encouragement to monetary assistance. Going through a difficult ordeal such as fighting cancer is painful and if anyone is kind enough to offer their assistance, you need to take them up on it. I learned the hard way that there is no room for pride or stubbornness in a battle with cancer.
The job of a caregiver to someone with cancer has an endless supply of highs and lows. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to others in my position is to never give up hope. There will be difficult moments, but you have to remember to dig deep and use every ounce of strength you have to remain positive.
Heather went through mesothelioma surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to fight mesothelioma and despite the odds, she was fortunate to conquer this horrendous disease. It has been seven years since her initial diagnosis, and I’m proud to say that she is cancer free today.
I was taught courage, strength and how to balance chaos throughout this ordeal, and I chose to go back to school full-time to study Information Technology. I graduated with honors and was chosen to speak at my graduating class. I relayed to my fellow classmates my difficult struggles and the importance of believing in themselves. No matter what life deals your way, you should never give up hope, and always keep fighting for the ones you love.
Thank you Cameron for loving your wife, and for taking on the very challenging position of caregiver as we here understand what a tough job it can be.