One of Jorden’s blog followers was touched by Jorden’s journey and asked if we would share an article that he wrote.  This blog update is dedicated to Cameron and his family.  We are so happy to be able to bring awareness and share the Von St. James story.

The Power of Hope: What I Learned from Caring for My Wife

My beautiful wife, Heather, was diagnosed with cancer on November 21, 2005, just three months after giving birth to our first child, Lily.  Though we’d been planning for Lily’s first Christmas, our lives were now total chaos.  Heather had malignant pleural mesothelioma, and I became a caregiver.

Nothing could have prepared me, but I began to understand my new role when the doctor gave us three care options and Heather remained silent.  I could tell she was shocked and in desperate need of help.  It was time to take charge, so I told the doctor we would see the mesothelioma specialist in Boston.  This was only the first of many decisions that ultimately became mine.

We both worked full-time before Heather’s diagnosis, but she could no longer work at all.  I worked part-time between doctor’s appointments, traveling and caring for Lily.  I was completely overwhelmed and constantly afraid that Heather would die.  I feared that I would be left alone and bankrupt to care for Lily.  There were many nights when I felt helpless and surrendered to tears on the kitchen floor.  I knew I had to remain strong for Heather, so I never let her see me cry.

Fortunately, all kinds of people offered us everything from emotional support too much needed financial assistance.  It’s hard to accept help sometimes, but caregivers and patients should always take it.  People genuinely want to help, and you’ll have a few less things to handle.  You’ll also feel less alone with support from others.

Caregivers experience all kinds of stress.  Life is chaotic, and you can’t walk away or take a break.  Sometimes you have to let yourself have a bad day.  However, you should always maintain hope.  Never stop believing in your loved one’s chances of getting better.

Despite the odds, Heather managed to beat cancer.  Seven years later, Heather is cancer-free.  Heather’s mesothelioma diagnosis reminded me to appreciate my time.  Two years after the diagnosis, I returned to school.  I worked full-time, cared for Heather and Lily and studied Information Technology, ultimately accomplishing my dream of earning my degree.

I learned how to balance time and stress during Heather’s battle, and I earned my degree with high honors.  I also had the incredible opportunity to speak at my graduation.  I told everyone that I never would have pictured myself on the stage when I first heard the diagnosis.  I spoke about my wife’s fight with cancer, and all that it had taught me about life and our potential.  I told my fellow graduates what my wife taught me – that within each of us is the strength to accomplish unbelievable things. We are truly capable of accomplishing anything when we believe that we can do it.

Posted by Joanne on behave of Cameron Von St James