Monday, November 26, 2012
Posted by BreeAnn and Travis at 2:01 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2012
This is unusal for me, but I had a gentleman approach me about having a guest blogger. He paints an interesting perspective as a spouse of someone with cancer. Without further adieu, a guest post from Cameron Von St. James:
Coping with My Wife's Cancer
Although my wife, Heather, knows that it was difficult for me, I have only told her the details once of how I coped with caring for her following her mesothelioma diagnosis. Perhaps this information will help her, and anyone else going through a similar situation, understand more.
Our only daughter, Lily, was born three months before we learned of my wife’s difficult diagnosis. It was hard for us to transition from a time of such joy to one of such insecurity and fear. I was shocked when the doctors told us that Heather had mesothelioma, and I was completely overwhelmed.
However, the doctors almost immediately began questioning us about future treatment options, effectively leading me to thoughts that were more constructive. This was just one of the many times that I was forced to make incredibly difficult choices with my wife even as we faced incredible emotional upheaval.
My first emotions were extreme and difficult to control. I found myself becoming angry quite often. In fact, many times I had difficulty expressing myself without using profanities. With time, I learned how to control my anger and dismay because I knew that my wife and daughter needed me to be an unyielding anchor for them. Instead of showing Heather my doubts and insecurities, I practiced being confident and hopeful despite my difficulties.
Many times, it was difficult to find the time that I needed to accomplish everything at work and around the house. Learning to tackle the most important needs first was a huge accomplishment. I also realized that I needed to accept the offers of help that I was receiving from family and friends. Looking back, I have no idea how we would have survived these days without their help.
Heather has said that she does not know how I coped during what I consider to have been the hardest two months of my life. Immediately after her surgery, Heather went to stay with her parents in South Dakota, who had already been caring for Lily. During this time, Heather focused on recuperating and preparing for her next round of mesothelioma treatments. However, I was only able to visit them once.
Visiting them involved an 11-hour drive. I began on a Friday night after work, despite a snowstorm, and was forced to sleep in my car for several hours while waiting for snowplows to clear the roads. After a brief visit on Saturday and Sunday morning, I had to return home for work on Monday.
Although being so far away from my family for two months was quite trying, I feel that it was necessary in order for me to continue to work while Heather and Lily received the care that they needed. This is just one example of the many difficult decisions that I was forced to make. However, I am very glad that we still retained the ability to make these decisions during this time.
There are two main things I learned after Heather’s mesothelioma diagnosis. The first was to accept offers of help from family and friends; the second was to be grateful for the ability to make decisions, no matter how difficult they may be. Through all of our struggles, Heather is still here and still healthy over six years later. I hope that our story can be a source of hope and help to those currently battling cancer.
Posted by BreeAnn and Travis at 12:32 PM