Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Guest Post - Cameron Von St. James

I received an email from Cameron Von St. James regarding his wife's battle with mesothelioma.  This disease is a rare and deadly cancer, with a life expectancy of about 3-12 months.  She survived her treatment and recovery and is still living over seven years later!  Here's their story of hope to share with you.

Going Through Cancer: Our Story
Seven years ago, my wife and I started a new chapter. It wasn't one that we had planned for, or had ever considered could happen to us. My wife was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma on November 21st, 2005, just a few days before Thanksgiving. The news was especially difficult to take considering that we had just brought a beautiful baby girl into the world. Our daughter Lily was born just three months prior to the diagnosis.  Our future looked bright and happy for our new little family, but cancer changed everything, and sent us down a long and difficult journey of survival.
I started being a caregiver for my wife the moment that we entered the doctor's office together. As I looked at her face after hearing the news, tears were in both of our eyes, and all I could do was wonder how we could ever get through this. What can you say?  The doctor gave us some options for treatment. There was a regional hospital as well as a university hospital, neither of which had a program for mesothelioma. There had to be something else. The doctor suggested that we see a specialist in Boston named Dr. David Sugarbaker. I knew that this was the only option that was going to save Heather from cancer.
There were days spent at work where I stared at the clock just waiting to go home so that I could take care of my wife, check on the baby, and perform as many of the hundreds of tasks that I knew needed doing as I could. I still needed to work. Treatment and travel wasn't easy to pay for. I kept having nightmares of how this was going to end. Was I going to be alone with a baby girl and no home? It was a really troubling time, but I couldn't think this way. I had to be a rock for my girls.
However, help soon came from my new family. Heather's parents were extremely kind and generous during this dark time. They provided support for Lily and even offered a place for Heather to recuperate after her surgery in Boston. I don't know if I thanked them enough for making my family whole again, but they truly did. I will always remember how it felt to not be alone and to have people there with you even when times seem at their worst.
My strongest advice to anyone going through their own cancer journey is to accept every offer of help that comes your way.  I had to learn the hard way that there is no room for pride in a cancer battle.  Once I accepted this, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Over the following months, Heather would undergo mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in order to fight this terrible disease.  Despite the odds against her, at the end of it all she came out alive, healthy and cancer free.  She remains that way to this day, over seven years after her diagnosis.  We now hope that by sharing our story, we can help inspire others in their own cancer journeys, to never give up hope and always keep fighting for the ones they love.

Cameron Von St. James
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Cameron, for your inspirational post. My best wishes to you, Heather, and your daughter, Lily. Please keep in touch!