Many of us know of at least one person who has battled with cancer. Today I have a guest, Cameron Von St. James, a man who has helped his wife battle with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. He shares with us today his personal experience, and his own struggles as he and his wife worked at overcoming this disease.
“My wife often asks me to explain to her what my life was like after we found out that she had mesothelioma. Talking about my experiences has always been hard, but I feel that our story could resonate with other families facing tough battles with cancer, and for that reason I wish to share more.
We had been so excited about the birth of our daughter Lily. She was born three months prior to my wife’s diagnosis. I did not realize how quickly we could go from being so happy, to being so scared and worried. When the doctors said mesothelioma, I wondered how on earth we would ever make it through this tough situation.
I did not have long to feel burdened with all of this news because the doctors quickly began to ask questions about our future medical choices. Even though I was overwhelmed with everything, the decisions that I had to help my wife make did not leave much time for us to feel sorry for ourselves. These impossible decisions quickly brought us back to reality and forced us to face our situation head-on.
I was so full of negative emotions during this time; I was often full of rage and anger and frequently lashed out at those around me. Eventually, I began to gain better control of my anger because I knew what was at stake. Being emotionally stable around my wife was so important, for I knew she depended on me to be strong and to be her support. I realized I could not let her see how scared I was, because as difficult as it was for me I knew that it must be even worse for her.
With my wife battling this illness, so many responsibilities fell on me. I was tired from taking care of our house, taking care of our daughter, driving back and forth to different places, and working at my own job. On some days, even though I had a lot of help from my friends, I still was about to break down from all of the pressure. I learned that I needed to prioritize and create a routine for myself. I had to understand that not everything could get done, and to take my list on one item at a time and tackle the most important issues first. Even with my system in place, I relied heavily on the help offered by our community. Were it not for the incredible outpouring of generosity from our caring family and friends, we may never have made it through this difficult time.
Heather and Lily’s time in South Dakota was the most stressful of all. For two months following Heather’s intensive surgery, they both stayed with Heather’s parents, so Heather could recover and get some rest before her next rounds of mesothelioma treatment. Because I needed to stay behind for work, I only saw them once during these two months.
I can clearly remember my desperation to see them. I drove 11 hours through the snow during the night, only to spend a few hours with both of them before I had to drive 11 hours back, so I could be at work the next day. It was a lot of gruelling travel for a precious few moments of time with them, but it was worth it.
Even as difficult as it may seem, everything worked out for the betterment of our family. Having my wife and daughter stay with my wife’s parents was the most sensible choice. All of our choices were things we needed to do, and I am glad that we were able to make choices. We both took comfort in having some small amount of control over our situation, and as difficult as some choices were to make, the options afforded to us helped us get through.
This ordeal taught me a lot. It taught me to always accept help from others and to always be thankful that we can make choices. Choices give us the control we need when we feel that we do not have any control. Now six years later, Heather is doing great. I hope our story gives hope to others going through a cancer battle.”
(You can read more of Cameron’s experiences by visiting here)
What part of Cameron’s experience stands out for you?