Dealing With My Wife’s Cancer Diagnosis
My wife has often told me that it was hard for her to imagine the hardships that I went through after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I am writing this because I want to share more about what I experienced as a caregiver.
Three months before my wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma, we welcomed our daughter, Lily into the world. She was our first and only child, and it was a very joyful and promising time. However, our joy soon turned into uncertainty and fear. After the doctors told my wife that she had mesothelioma, I looked into her eyes and thought to myself, “How are we going to make it through this?”
I was so overwhelmed that I was on the verge of having a breakdown. I was brought back to reality when the doctors began asking us questions about future medical choices. That day would be the first of many that I would be required to make difficult decisions while I was feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
After my wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma, I felt angry and fearful. I did not know how to cope with that anger, so I frequently used profanity when I was talking to others. Fortunately, it became easier for me to handle my emotions with time. I also realized that my wife and daughter were depending on me. It was hard, but I tried my best to stay strong around my wife. I wanted to be her rock, a source of stability and optimism, so I tried to hide my fears from her. That was a lot easier said than done.
I had a long to-do list right after my wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma. It was very overwhelming, but I eventually learned how to prioritize and focus on the tasks that were most important. I was blessed to have wonderful people to help me, but I was still overwhelmed even with all of the help.
There was a two-month period that was especially difficult. This was right after Heather had surgery in Boston. After that, she flew to South Dakota so that she could recover from surgery and prepare for radiation and chemotherapy. Lily had been staying in South Dakota with her grandparents the entire time that Heather and I were in Boston. I had to return home to work, so I only saw my wife and daughter once during those next two months.
I remember one Friday night I drove 11 hours during a snowstorm so that I could see them. When I arrived the next morning, I was exhausted. I spent Saturday and part of Sunday morning with my wife and daughter. After that, I drove back home so that I could be at work the following morning. It was a long, grueling trip for just a few precious hours with my family, but it was worth every second.
Even though I hated being away from my wife and daughter, I realized that it was for the best. I could not work and take care of my daughter at the same time. The mesothelioma diagnosis forced my wife and I to make many difficult decisions, but I do not regret any of them.
I learned to accept help from others during this difficult ordeal. I also learned to be thankful that I have the ability to make choices. Despite everything that Heather has been through, she is alive and healthy over seven years later. I hope that this story will help anyone who is currently battling cancer today.