Cameron wrote and asked me if I wanted to post his article. It’s wonderful to read and so meaningful.
Husband, Father, and Caregiver
More than once my wife has commented to me that she has no idea what I went through after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The day her doctor looked at her and gave her the crushing news, she cried. I watched the tears as they fell from her eyes and wondered how we would ever get through something like this. Her diagnosis came only three months after she gave birth to our first and only daughter, Lily. We were filled with such joy and happiness at that time. Unfortunately, that was quickly taken from us as we were told that my wife had cancer.
I was angry and emotional. It took the doctor talking about the medical decisions we’d have to make before I finally realized that this was only the beginning of the emotions and difficult decisions we faced. Our situation didn’t seem fair, and I took my anger out on others by cursing at them and lashing out. It didn’t take me long to recognize how selfish I was being. I realized that the last thing my wife needed was to see just how scared I really was. From that moment on, I did everything I could to be a stable source of hope and optimism for my wife. It wasn’t easy, but I did my best to be the rock my wife needed to get through this horrible time.
My days were overwhelming. Aside from work, I had a house to take care of. I had my wife to care for, doctor appointments, travel arrangements to make, our daughter to care for, and our pets to think about. If I hadn’t learned to prioritize and do the most important tasks on my to-do list first, I never would have survived this. Additionally, it didn’t take me long to realize that I needed to accept the offers of help our friends and families were calling us with. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
The hardest of all the decisions we had to make came after my wife’s surgery in Boston. She flew to South Dakota to spend two months with her parents and Lily, while I remained behind to work. It was a horrible decision to have to make, but we knew I couldn’t work and care for Heather and Lily while Heather recovered and rested for her next round of mesothelioma treatment: chemotherapy and radiation. It was a hard decision, but it isn’t one I look back on with regret. We did what was best for our family, and we are just blessed we had that option.
During those two months I saw my family only one time. I drove 11 hours through a snowstorm one Friday night after work and had to turn around and drive home on Sunday so I could go back to work on Monday. It was exhausting, but I was so happy to see my family.
If I learned anything from my wife’s cancer diagnosis, it’s that I can’t do everything myself. I had to have help, and I am so grateful to those who offered their help to us. We also learned not to anguish in the tough decisions we were forced to make. We realized that having the ability to make tough choices gave us a level of control over our situation, and this was a great blessing. Despite the overwhelming odds against her, Heather is here and healthy over six years later. I hope that my story can help someone else going through currently going through a similar struggle with cancer.