Merry Christmas, everyone. I couldn’t be more thankful for all of you, my fabulous friends and family – definitely the best present anyone could wish for. Thank you all for your love, support, prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts, etc, etc! Today I’d like to share a special story from a guest blogger, Cameron Von St. James of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Not only is it inspiring for all facing not so great diagnosis’, but is a great example of the incredible blessing of supportive family and friends…
The holiday season of 2005 was to be the best one yet. My wife and I had a three and a half month old daughter, Lily, and we were so excited to plan new traditions for our family our first year as parents. We were thrilled to celebrate our first Christmas as parents with our beautiful little girl. Heather and I talked about all the things we wanted to do with Lily for Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, all of that happiness and joy was taken from us three days before Thanksgiving, when my wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. I knew enough about this type of cancer to know that our future was not very certain anymore.
I was angry, scared and expecting the worst. I was terrified of losing my wife to cancer and being a widower with a baby. I hoped for the best, but I could not help but think that our future no longer looked as bright as it had in the days before Heather’s diagnosis. Our holiday that year was not a celebration as planned. My wife’s family flew in to visit with us during the holidays, before we had to head to Boston for Heather’s surgery. I dreaded the conversation I knew we would have, and it didn’t disappoint; it was one of the hardest moments of my life.
I spent my holidays sitting around a table listening to my wife and family members discuss our finances, our assets, and our debts. We both worked before Heather was diagnosed, but now with all the travel arrangements and medical bills, we were barely keeping our heads above water. I listened as my family discussed which of our assets we could liquidate for cash and which of our debts my in-laws could help us pay while Heather fought cancer. I was horrified and helpless. My holidays were completely ruined. It took me a very long time before I could see how mistaken I was that day.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was not the terrible conversation I thought it was. My pride got in the way of me realizing that this conversation was not one to highlight my shortcomings, but to show me how much love we really are blessed to have. Our family dropped everything in their own lives to help us in our time of need, were willing to make incredible sacrifices so that we could stay afloat and give Heather the care she needed. This year, I am choosing to be thankful during the holidays for such a wonderful family who is willing to help us so selflessly, and for more time with my beautiful daughter and wife to make more memories and to be a real family.
This year will be our 7th Christmas together since Heather was diagnosed, and despite the typically poor prognosis for mesothelioma, all signs indicate that we will have many more as a family. Heather has beaten the odds, and I hope that our story can be a source of hope and comfort to all those currently fighting cancer this holiday season.