So, one of the amazing things about writing this blog, is the feedback that I get from those who read it, which touches me deeply. Also, the amount of people out there who are dealing with cancer in so many varied, intense and challenging ways. I am including a bit  of writing that came to me from a man who wrote to me to share the story of his wife’s dire stage 4 cancer, that she is now 6 healthy years on the other side of. Cameron, I thank you for reaching out and I wish all the best to your wife Elizabeth and your daughter Lily. (My daughter’s name is Lily too…) Blessings, happiness and good health to us all.

Cancer and the Holidays

I know what it’s like to go from on top of the world to feeling like you’ve hit rock bottom in a matter of a day. In 2005, my wife Heather and I were preparing to spend the holidays as a family for the first time with our three month old daughter, Lily. We happily discussed the holiday traditions we grew up with and the traditions we wanted to start now that we had our own family. I was so thankful for these two wonderful people in my life. Three days before Thanksgiving, however, I was told my wife had been diagnosed with pleural malignant mesothelioma, and I no longer felt thankful for anything.

I had heard of mesothelioma and I knew enough about this form of cancer to know that the future was uncertain. I was so angry and afraid that all I could imagine was the worst-case scenario. I hoped for the best, but it was hard. Despite everything, we still celebrated the holidays that year.  After all, it was Lily’s first Christmas, and there was a strong possibility that it could be her only Christmas with her mother.

The time I’d been dreading since the diagnosis happened when my in-laws visited for the holidays. We were preparing to go to Boston for Heather’s treatments, but first we had to sit down and discuss our finances. I listened as my in-laws and wife discussed our personal money situation, including which of our assets we could liquidate to stay afloat, and what my in-laws could afford to help us pay. Heather and I were both employed before she was diagnosed, but she would no longer be able to work once she started treatment and I was having a hard time keeping our heads above water by myself. It was not an easy time for us. At the time, as I sat there listening to my family discuss these issues, I felt helpless and hopeless.  It would be years before I could look back on that day and realize how mistaken I had been.

Once I got over my pride I realized that I did have a lot to be thankful for that year. I had a family who was willing to put a stop to their own lives simply to help us out when we needed it the most. I realized that it was okay that I couldn’t take care of everything on my own, and that the fact that I had a loving family surrounding me made me a very lucky man.

This holiday season, I am going to take the time to show my extreme thanks for my loving, supportive family and the fact that I have more time with my wife and daughter to create new memories and happy thoughts. After that first Christmas, we were able to create many more holiday traditions as a family.  Despite the initially bleak prognosis for mesothelioma, Heather has been healthy for over 6 years now.  I hope that our story can help those currently fighting cancer find some peace and comfort this holiday season.