With Hope, The Odds Don’t Matter

I’ve got a guest post I’d like to share.  Some may think that it is a little off the topic of Meniere’s disease but the message is right on the mark of what I am trying to accomplish with this blog.

I was first diagnosed with Meniere’s disease back in 1994.  I went to the doctors and learned that this ailment was incurable.  I also learned that few people knew how to get relief from it.  Luckily, after a absolutely terrible year, the disease went into remission.  During that year, I lived in constant fear of when the next attack would hit.  I was without hope.  My Meniere’s disease has come out of remission three times since then, the latest just a few weeks ago.

My most current experience with Meniere’s is so drastically different than the first round because I now have hope.  During my first year of Meniere’s, I thought that it would be a constant companion my entire life.  I knew that I could not live like that.  Since I have been able to drive it back into remission, I have hope and confidence.  Each succession round of “active” Meniere’s gets shorter and shorter. That is because I have learned what to do to manage it and also because I have the confidence that in the end, I will get the best of it.

But let’s get on to the main event.  Let me turn the time over to Cameron Von St. James.


 

I’ll never forget how my life changed drastically seven years ago. My wife Heather and I celebrated the birth of our first and only child. We named her Lily, and she was a dream come true. About three months after she came into our world, we found out some unfortunate news. Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was something that shocked my family and ended the whirlwind of happiness that we had been living in.

I started my journey as Heather’s caregiver from the moment I entered the doctor’s office. When you go through something so traumatic together, your bond strengthens because you are tested in such a way that only you two can know that feeling. The doctor diagnosed her with mesothelioma, and she was incapable of speech, too shocked to respond. I was in disbelief. I kept thinking to myself how did this happen and why was it happening to us. However, we really didn’t have time to waste. Heather likely only had 15 months to live without treatment. There was no waiting on this. I looked to Heather as the doctor suggested different treatments, from local hospitals to regional hospitals. There was also a mesothelioma specialist in Boston who had a lot of experience in treating this disease. To me, the choice was clear, and we made immediate plans to go to Boston to see the mesothelioma specialist.

The next months were spent getting ready for Heather’s treatment while also trying to put our affairs in order. I’ve never felt so many emotions on a daily basis. Going to work was the absolute worst part. I always felt that I needed to be somewhere else than where I was. I needed to be by my wife’s side or taking care of Lily. I didn’t want to be anywhere but with them. On some days, all of the emotions compounded with doubt and fear and created some serious breakdowns. I found myself sobbing on the kitchen floor one night because I had been overcome by the thought of losing Heather and all that we had trying to save her. It was unfair. I thought that things were going to be so different and I never expected for anything like this to happen. Despite those feelings and the chaos sweeping over my family, I knew I needed to be their rock. I could not be anything else but a strong, caring husband and father. I never showed what I was truly feeling to Heather because I needed to be greater than that. The last thing she needed was to see my fears.

Even though I thought I could handle it all, that was my first mistake. I didn’t want to accept help from others at first due to my stubborn pride. However, people were just so compassionate. Friends, family, neighbors and even strangers just wanted to help Heather see this thing through. They gave in little ways and also huge ways. They offered us everything from kind words to financial help, which was something that I didn’t want to admit to needing. This is just my advice to others in similar situations. When people offer you help in a crisis like this, just accept the offer and show your appreciation however you can. There is simply no room for pride in a battle like this. I don’t think that I can ever thank those people enough for what they did for my family. They were the heroes for my wife, my daughter and me.

At a certain point, Heather started rounding the corner in her recovery. She had been through an intense, major surgery called an extrapleural pneumonectomy that removed one of her lungs. She had gone through chemotherapy and radiation. She had spent months in treatment, but despite everything that she faced, she got through it. I helped her in whatever way that I could. Those moments spent in darkness were the toughest, but I’m glad that we got through it together because it has made us stronger as human beings, parents, spouses and friends to one another.

Today, Heather is cancer free. While mesothelioma takes 95 percent of the people it infects, it didn’t take my wife. We have a beautiful family together, and we could not be more thankful for the blessings we’ve been given. Now, we wish to give back by sharing our message of hope and success against cancer, in the hopes of inspiring others in their own battles today.


 

Thanks to Cameron for sharing a winning story.  You can visit him at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/

There is a great video of this story that is well worth checking out.  Find it at

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/#.Ubp-bfk3uSo