Care Giver Challenges and Lessons
November 23, 2012
Jackie Roberge

Cam and Heather had just had a baby when they got the news about her cancer diagnosis - Mesotheliom, which is a rare but deadly cancer.  I am happy to say that Heather and Cam worked through this ordeal together and Heather is healthy and still with us today

In his story, Cam shares with us the many challenging moments he lived through in trying to support both his wife and their newborn child. He concludes with several lessons incluing the importance of accepting help from others.

I am so grateful to Cam for sharing his story and offering support to other husbands and family members who are faced with similar situations. 

Blessings to all,


Cam's Story

My Experiences During My Wife's Cancer Ordeal

My wife Heather has frequently wondered how I coped after her mesothelioma diagnosis.  Just recently, I began to share my thoughts and experiences of this ordeal with her, and I hope that our story can be a help to people currently battling cancer.

Just three months before her diagnosis, we welcomed Lily, our only daughter and child, into this world.  For three months, we reveled in the joy of having our new baby with us.  However, our joy quickly turned to sadness after my wife's diagnosis.  I remember clearly the day that our doctors revealed that mesothelioma was the cause of my wife's illness.  I can still recall looking deeply into her eyes as I pondered how we would deal with this news.

At once, I felt depressed and unable to process what was happening.  We learned that mesothelioma, while very rare, is an extremely deadly form of cancer.  The majority of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma do not survive for more than a few months, and full recoveries were almost unheard of.  The doctors began to speak about possible medical treatments, quickly bringing my thoughts back to the reality looming ahead of us.  This day was only the first of many that would offer difficult challenges and decisions for both of us.

After the crushing diagnosis, I felt enraged and frustrated.  I couldn't properly communicate my anguish, leaving me to sometimes rely on profanity to express my pain.  However, after processing the news further, I was able to control my anger.  Finally, I realized that I needed to stay strong so that I could support my wife and my child.  I especially tried to control my feelings when I was around my wife.

In the days following the diagnosis, I usually had a long list of tasks to finish.  From my own work to making travel arrangements, I was busy all day long.  In addition, I had to care for our daughter and our pets.  At first, I quickly felt overwhelmed and stressed.  However, I learned how to prioritize my tasks and efficiently work through each one.  I also learned how to accept help from my beloved friends and family.

One two-month period in particular stands out in my memory.  After undergoing surgery in Boston, Heather traveled to South Dakota where Lily had been staying with Heather's parents.  Heather traveled to South Dakota to give herself time to recover and prepare for her next round of mesothelioma treatments, which would include chemotherapy and radiation.  I only managed to see Heather and Lily once during this time.  This visit occurred after driving for 11 hours in a snowstorm.  I was only able to stay for a couple of days before heading back home for work.

Although it was tough to stay away from Heather and Lily, I do not regret the choice.  I know I couldn't have juggled work and taking care of Lily at the same time.  Many of the choices we made after the cancer diagnosis were made due to necessity.  I felt grateful that we at least had some choices available to us.

The most important lesson that I learned from my wife's cancer saga is that you should learn how to accept help from those you love.  I also learned to appreciate that not everything was completely out of our control.  We still had the power to make our own choices throughout this arduous ordeal. 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.




Article originally appeared on CancerShift (
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