Look at this family. How cool does she look? Be jealous of the hair, I know I am ! Anyway, I am posting something that has nothing to do with me but for a gentleman that wants to share his story about his wife.
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How My Wife’s Cancer Diagnosis Changed My Life
On November 21, 2005, my wife Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. I instantly became a caregiver, and I was not at all prepared for it. Our first child, Lily, was born just three months before Heather was diagnosed with cancer. We were looking forward to spending our first Christmas with our daughter, but things quickly took a turn for the worse on that day, just three days before Thanksgiving.
Our doctor gave us an overview of mesothelioma and then presented us with three options, a regional hospital, a local university hospital and a doctor in Boston who specialized in mesothelioma. My wife was silent after hearing the choices, and as we waited for her to weigh the options, I realized that she was terrified and in shock, and needed my help. I immediately said to the doctor, “Get us to Boston.”
The next two months were very chaotic. Prior to Heather’s diagnosis, she and I both worked full-time. After the diagnosis, Heather could not work, and I only worked part-time. I was overwhelmed with responsibility; I had to work, take my wife to her doctor’s appointments, travel to Boston and take care of Lily, our house, our pets – the list was endless. All the while, I was constantly afraid that I was going to lose my wife. I found myself bawling on the kitchen floor on more than one occasion, wishing it would all just go away. But I knew that I had to be strong for Heather. I did not want her to see me weak.
Heather and I were fortunate enough to have friends, family members and even strangers to help us. We cannot thank the people who helped us enough. A piece of advice that I would offer to a cancer patient or caregiver is to accept help every time its offered. Let the people who care about you lighten your load, there is no room for pride when your loved one’s life is on the line.
It is not easy taking care of someone who has cancer, and you cannot walk away from it. You will have days when you want to quit, you’ll have bad days where you think you can’t go on, but you can never lose hope.
Over the following months, Heather had radical mesothelioma surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Despite all of the odds that were against her, she has beaten the cancer. Today, she is cancer free, and it has been seven years since she was first diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Heather’s battle with cancer has reminded how precious life is. That is why I decided to go back to school and study information technology two years after Heather was diagnosed with cancer. I worked full-time and took care of Heather and Lily while I was in school. My experience as a caregiver provided me with the mental fortitude to pull it off.
Not only did I successfully complete school, but I was also an honor graduate and student graduation speaker for my class. I told the crowd that I never dreamed that I would be on that stage giving a graduation speech five years after my wife’s cancer diagnosis. I also said that if we believe in ourselves, then we could accomplish more than we can ever imagine. Heather and Lily were in the audience to cheer me on, and for that I could not have been more thankful.
MesotheliomaWikipedia: Mesothelioma (or, more precisely, malignant mesothelioma) is a rare form of cancer that develops from transformed cells originating in the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. →