Friday, February 22, 2013

Guest Post on Caregiving and Cancer

I was approached by a fellow blogger with a request.  He is a caregiver for his spouse, or was a caregiver for his spouse during her acute phase of mesothelioma.  He wanted to share his story with you, my readers.  I read his suggested post and will share it with you in full.  The main reason I agreed to post it for him is because I understand two things.  1) People who care for the ones that they love do not always call themselves caregivers and 2) It is important that "caregivers" pay attention to their own needs and health. Of course, in my world that means that caregivers should be mindful to eat well and get daily exercise.  You must make time for yourself in order to give quality time to others.  

The story below was written by Cameron Von St. James. It is a good and important read.
He has a blog of his own which you can access here.  I went to his site and as best I could tell he isn't trying to sell you anything, but always consider the risks when linking to other webpages and clicking on links you find there.

What I Learned From My Wife's Cancer

November 21, 2005 is a day that will be ingrained in our minds forever. This was the day that my wife and I received word that she was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. This was also the day that I became my wife’s caregiver, but I wasn’t prepared for the responsibility. It was only three months prior to the diagnosis that we had our daughter Lily. When I thought we should be parenting and celebrating her first holiday, we were talking about finances and cancer treatments. I will never forget how we felt – helpless, scared, and uncertain about our future.

After the diagnosis, Heather left her job to focus on healing, and I had to scale back to part time in order to care for her and Lily. This put a strain on our finances that only added to the stress of our situation. I had so much responsibility during this time. I had to take care of my daughter and make doctor’s appointments for my wife. I also had to make travel arrangements, but I was so overwhelmed with my responsibilities. The stress was so intense that my thoughts spiraled out of control.  
I began to wonder, “Is my wife going to die? Am I going to end up penniless and broke? Will I end up being a widower and caring for my daughter alone?” I cried out of control sometimes, and there were days when I was so weak, but she never knew how I felt. I needed to be strong for her, and the last thing she needed was to see my fears.

I could not have coped with cancer alone. I needed the help of my family, friends, and even strangers. They offered badly needed financial assistance and comforting words in our time of need. We were grateful for the help we received, and we recommend that everyone accept the help offered to them. As I would learn the hard way, there is no room for pride in a cancer battle.

Being a caregiver is difficult and stressful at times. There are many days that I wanted to give up, but I knew I could not walk away from my responsibilities. I used my resources to cope with the situation and to remain sane.

After months of grueling treatments including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, Heather was able to achieve what we feared was impossible.  Despite the bleak prognosis for mesothelioma, she was able to defeat this ugly disease once and for all. Now, over seven years since the awful diagnosis, Heather is still cancer free and healthy.  We hope that by sharing our experiences, we can help inspire all those currently battling through cancer today.  Never give up hope, and never stop fighting for those you love. 

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