How Cancer Affected My Family

How Cancer Affected My Family

*** This post below was written by Cameron Von St. James, caregiver extraordinaire & blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.  


Many times recently, my wife has stated that only I know what I went through when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.  I have not shared my experience as a caregiver very much since her diagnosis.  I am taking this

time now to tell my experience in hopes it can shed some light for others on how this disease can affect families.

Several weeks after my wife Heather gave birth to our daughter, Lily, we received news from the doctors that my wife had mesothelioma.  This completely shattered our newfound happiness at being parents to our amazing infant daughter.  We were caught off-guard and were stunned.  Initially, I did not respond well to the news.  I became angry and I often lashed out at people using foul language.  My temper certainly got the best of me a few different times shortly after her diagnosis.

I soon realized that I needed to quickly pull myself together and be the type of husband and father my family could depend on.  This was going to be a trial of a lifetime for my family, and Heather and Lily needed me to be there for them.  I began coping better and I became determined to do whatever was necessary to help my wife through this disease while also being a loving dad to Lily and providing for my family at the same time.

After the diagnosis, my list of things to do grew to an overwhelming list.  In addition to working, I had to transport my daughter to her wellness check-ups, take my wife back and forth to doctor’s appointments and take care of everyday household chores and meal preparations.  We were very blessed to have a large amount of help from caring neighbors, co-workers and friends.  I really do not know what I would have done without these caring people pitching in to help us out with small chores, carpooling and meals.  I will forever be grateful to them.

There was a two-month time period where my wife went to stay with her parents and Lily in South Dakota.  She was recovering from a surgery she had undergone in Boston.  She was also in resting and getting ready for another session of mesothelioma treatment: radiation and chemotherapy.  This was indescribably difficult for me because I had to stay home and keep working so I could keep my job and pay the family bills.  I did get to visit them one time and I was so grateful for that opportunity, but I missed them like crazy while we were separated for several weeks at a time.

Looking back now, I know we could not have made it through the entire ordeal without the loving support of people who rallied around us.  We will always be grateful to family members and friends who helped out in any way possible.  We were faced with a tough diagnosis and we did everything we could to make sure my wife made it through it safely.  Through all of our struggles, Heather is still here and still healthy over six years later.  I hope that our story can be a source of hope and help to those currently battling cancer.


Thank you Cameron for all you are doing to make a difference for those lives touched by cancer! xo

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