Story of a caregiver

My Life as a Caregiver

Back in November 2005, my wife, Heather, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and extremely deadly form of cancer. We were devastated. It was even worse for us because just three months prior, we had our daughter, Lily. What was a fun, joyous and exciting time in our lives quickly became a time full of utter confusion, fear and chaos.

The doctor told us that we had a few options, but our best option was to see a specialist in Boston. Heather was silent, and frozen with fear and shock, but for me the decision was an easy one.  I told the doctor, “Get us to Boston!”

My life as a caregiver was tough. Those next couple months our routines were completely changed. We went from working full time jobs to just me working part time. I needed to care for Heather and Lily. I had to make travel arrangements, keep the house clean, care for the pets and be there when any extra things needed to be done. There were times when I broke down, sitting on the floor crying and worrying about our future. I was worried about Heather’s life, raising Lily without a mother, going broke and failing to save my wife.

I was careful not to let Heather see my weak moments. Eventually I learned to accept things and remain positive. Luckily, we both had families who were there to help us. Whether it was offering words of advice or helping with financial matters, I learned to accept every little bit of help that was offered.

Being a caregiver for Heather was the hardest test I’ve ever faced in my life. Cancer affects more people than just the patient. However, it is important to be strong during this time. Unlike things like work or school, you can’t just simply walk away from cancer.

If I could offer any advice for people it would be to learn to accept help whenever it is offered. It is important to have a strong support group during hard times. It’s also important to cherish every moment you have with loved ones. Even though cancer is tough, don’t take those hard times for granted.

It’s been several years since Heather was diagnosed and after undergoing mesothelioma treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, she is finally cancer free. The odds of beating mesothelioma the way that Heather did are slim to none, but miraculously she pulled it off.

Learning how to balance time and deal with stress allowed me to go back to college two years after Heather was diagnosed. I got my degree in Information Technology, and I graduated top of my class. I gave my graduation speech and remember it like it was yesterday. I told my fellow graduates that just a few years before, I never thought I would be where I was then.  Heather and Lily were in the audience to cheer me on, and that was the best part of all.

Here is a link to cameron’s site:  http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/

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