A Message from Cameron

I was contacted by Cameron von St James via this blog.  Camerons wife Heather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma a deadly form of Cancer.   Cameron asked me if I would share this story as a caregiver and of course I am delighted to.  Cameron has also written a blog and its beautiful reading

Becoming a Caregiver to my Spouse: How We Got Through Cancer

My wife Heather sat down me with one day and asked, “What was it like for you?” I didn’t really know how to answer this question. She wanted me to tell her about my life as a caregiver while she went through mesothelioma treatment. It wasn’t easy to talk about, but in doing so, we managed to see both sides of this life-changing event.

Before her illness, we were the happiest we had ever been. Three months before the diagnosis, I witnessed the birth of our one and only child, Lily. Our daughter brought such utter joy that we didn’t realize it could be taken away so quickly. When the doctors said mesothelioma, I didn’t know what to think or do. I just looked at Heather and felt tears rising up, thinking that I couldn’t lose her now. I had to be there for her.

I struggled not to breakdown in the doctor’s office, but then, there wasn’t any time for that. Immediately, her doctor started to go over medical treatment options. The discussion brought me back to reality. I had to think logically about the way we were going to live now and how we would get through this time. This was the first of many times that I didn’t know how I was going to make it emotionally and yet I knew that I had to be strong to help my wife make the decisions that needed to be made.

There were all sorts of emotional roller coasters that first month. When I heard she had mesothelioma, I thought of everything I knew about the disease. It was a deadly cancer. I couldn’t control my rage at the thought of losing my love and our life together. My outlet became frequent use of profanity. I soon realized that I couldn’t let myself lose control. I had to be strong for my daughter and wife. They were the most important people in my life and I had to be their rock.

I started making to-do lists that were sometimes impossible. Looking back, I know that was I going crazy at first with too many things on my plate. I had to take care of Lily and our pets, while also being able to make arrangements for hospital stays and work. I still had to hold down a full time job. That was when some incredible people began showing up for us. Our friends and family, and even neighbors, just wanted to help. I didn’t know what to do at first, but then I realized how blessed we were to have people who cared and wanted to be there for us.

Heather was still going through her own battle with mesothelioma. There was a period of time that I know she couldn’t have imagined what I was going through. I didn’t really want her to know at first. Heather had undergone surgery at a Boston hospital. After, she went to South Dakota to stay with her parents. Lily had already been there with her grandparents during the surgery, and Heather needed to recover and prepare for the next part of her mesothelioma treatment, chemotherapy and radiation. I killed me to be away from them, but I had to remain behind to work and support the family while she recuperated.  During these two months, I was only able to briefly see my wife and daughter one time.

I remember it was a Friday evening. Right after work, I got in my car and drove 11 hours to South Dakota. However, I hadn’t planned for the snowstorm that suddenly blocked the roads. I slept on the side of the road in my car while the plows cleared the way. I didn’t know if I was going to have any time at all with Heather and Lily before I had to go back for my job on Monday morning. Finally, when I got there on Saturday, I was exhausted. I enjoyed the time that I could with Heather and Lily before getting back on the road the following day. Sometimes, I just had to make those decisions that seemed crazy, but those precious hours were worth it.

I know that times like these are struggles, but I learned a lot of things during this period. For one, you have to accept help from others. I couldn’t do it all and neither could Heather. I also learned never to think about my decisions or my life with regret. You can’t look back and think about what could have happened or what you should have done. The important part is that you are there for one another and you take time to be grateful for what you have. Mesothelioma didn’t beat Heather or me, despite my original fears and anger. We had the ability to control part of the situation in seeking treatment, and the decisions we made that got us through it. Hopefully, our story can be the hope that others need to get through their own decisions and never look back.

A Message from Katherine

My name is Katherine Keys and I have been fighting mesothelioma cancer for the past 9 years. If you don’t know, mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. My exposure came from doing years of wiring work for Texas Power and Light Company.

At the age of 49 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma and was told I had less than two years to live. But I was determined to stay positive and beat this cancer against all odds! My treatment included having my right lung and the lining of the lung removed–a major surgical procedure. Soon after, I began several months of radiation therapy.

I am overjoyed to say that my fight paid off and now 9 years later I am still cancer free! But I know I did not face this battle alone. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.

I was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely care about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma.

I feel it is my duty to give back to the community–to let people with asbestos diseases know they are not alone. There is help available!

Would you be so kind as to post a link to on your website? I know together we can help a lot of people!

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!