A Reason to be Thankful During the Holidays

In the four years I’ve written this blog, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a guest writer. That changes today.

Last week, I received an email from Cameron, a husband and father, who simply wanted to relay his wife’s story of surviving cancer to my readership. As someone who has lost an immediate family member to cancer, I couldn’t turn down his request.

In particular, he would like to raise the awareness of mesothelioma, which is a rare form of the disease and is normally considered fatal once diagnosed. He didn’t ask for anything in return for writing this post, he simply wanted to do his best to spread awareness.

I think that it’s important to have a “feel good” story at this time of year, and the story of survival definitely fits the bill. So without further adu, here is the story of Cameron, Heather, and Lily…

*****

Heather, Lily, & CameronI have always loved the holiday season. I enjoy being with my family as well as with close friends, and I love the traditions that are carried on by our families. I thought that 2005 would be a particularly special year for our family since my wife had given birth to our daughter Lily in the late summer. We eagerly anticipated Thanksgiving and Christmas and began making plans for the holiday traditions we would pass on to our daughter, and the new ones we would create as a family. Instead, we saw all our plans crashing around us when the doctors told my wife, Heather, shortly before Thanksgiving, that she had cancer.

Our lives changed completely that moment. With a newborn daughter, I was terrified at what this could mean for my family. I was aware that with my wife’s diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and very deadly cancer, we could not be sure of anything. I struggled a great deal with anger and fear during these dark days. I tried to hope for the best, but all I could picture was the worst case scenario. That year, I felt that I had very little to be thankful for.

Cameron & LilyDespite the horrible news, we tried our best to celebrate the holidays anyways. After all, there was a very real possibility that it could be Lily’s only holiday season with her mother. Heather’s family flew in from South Dakota to spend the holidays with us, and after our Thanksgiving dinner we had a conversation that I had been dreading for days.

Among the many issues we discussed were our finances, assets and childcare. Heather’s family agreed to help with some of our bills. We also deliberated as to how else we could obtain the money we would need because Heather and I could not work while staying in Boston for cancer treatments. I felt despair wash over me. I was embarrassed and ashamed, and I felt like I had failed my family in that moment. It would be years before I could see how mistaken I was to view that day with such negativity.

I see now, years later, that I indeed had much to be grateful for that season. Despite my embarrassment, our family was more than willing to help us in any way. They dropped everything in their own lives to be by our sides in our moment of need, and were willing to make incredible sacrifices for us without a second’s hesitation. Their supportive spirit was actually great cause for Thanksgiving, but my pride blinded me in that moment.

Seven years later, I realize all for which I can be grateful. The help and encouragement of family and friends have been phenomenal. Our daughter brings us joy each day, especially during the holidays as we celebrate family traditions that Heather and I envisioned when Lily was just a baby. In addition, thanks in large part to the love and support of our family and friends, Heather made it through her treatment and came out the other side as a mesothelioma survivor. Our wish is that our story can be an encouragement to many who are struggling through their own battles with cancer during this holiday season.

Cameron, Lily, & Heather

*****

You can read more from Cameron at his blog:  http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/

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