Monday, April 22, 2013

Inspirational Guest Post

This very powerful, touching, inspirational guest post is from Cameron Von St. James, thankyou for sharing such a beautiful story! May your wife continue in good health and your family have a long loving lasting time together!

Providing Care During Cancer Recovery

My wife Heather was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2005. Every day since then, I have learned things about myself that I never thought were possible. I've watched her grow as a person, grown as a person myself, and learned so many valuable lessons that I couldn't possibly write them all here. I continue to learn each day and grow. It didn't start out that way, though. It started out in November of 2005 in a doctor's office with my wife and I scared senseless about the diagnosis we had just heard: malignant pleural mesothelioma. We'd just had our first child three months earlier, a beautiful baby girl we named Lily. How could this happen to us at what should have been the most joyous time of our lives?

We didn't have the answer, and over the following months, chaos set in. Heather quit her job to work full-time battling cancer. I worked as much as I could and served as caretaker of both my wife and my newborn daughter. I checked the mail and saw our growing medical bills and felt a huge weight amassing on my shoulders. Terror set in. How would we pay all these bills? How could we afford another trip to Boston, where Heather's treatment would take place? This was perhaps the hardest lesson I had to learn through this process:  that there is no room for pride or stubbornness in a battle with cancer. I had never before accepted financial help from family and friends but in this case I had to. My wife's life was on the line and I would do anything to keep her with me.

She needed me to give her love, and I gave her that, an unwavering support that on the outside seemed strong when she couldn't be. She won't ever know the number of nights I stayed awake crying, not knowing how we were going to make it, fearful of what would happen if she left Lily and I alone so early in life. Thankfully, that didn't happen though. Heather underwent months and months of grueling treatment for mesothelioma, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments in the attempt to rid her body of this cancer.  Today, over seven years since her diagnosis, Heather is cancer free, Lily has a beautiful mother, and I have a beautiful wife that has taught me so much about strength and bravery, and the power of hope and optimism.

Two years into her treatment, I went back to school full-time to study Information Technology and pursue my dream of earning a college degree.  The lessons I learned throughout my wife’s battle with cancer gave me the strength and determination I needed to achieve this goal.  I graduated with high honors, and was given the great honor of giving the commencement speech at my graduation ceremony. I told my fellow graduates that just a few years earlier, being told that my wife could die and leave me a widowed single father, I never imagined that I would be up on that stage giving that speech.  I told them that within each of us is the strength to accomplish incredible, even impossible things, if we only just believe in ourselves.   Lily and her mother were in the audience to cheer me on, and that was the greatest reward of all.