Today I am not going to write about me. Today I am going to share an inspiring story about hope and the reasons for being thankful during this season. Thank you Cameron for sharing your story and the story of your wife Heather.
This is their story….
My Reason for Giving Thanks this Holiday Season
By Cameron Von St. James
My favorite time of the year has always been the holiday season. It is a great time to spend with family members and friends, creating memories that will last a lifetime. It was seven years ago, August of 2005, when my wife and I were celebrating the birth of Lily, our first and only daughter. My wife, Heather, and I were so excited to be able to spend the holidays with our new baby girl. We were already discussing different traditions that we would pass on to her, when all of the happiness of the holidays came to an immediate halt. Heather received news from her doctor that she had mesothelioma, a rare and very deadly form of cancer.
We learned of Heather’s diagnosis when our daughter was just 3 months old and just three days before Thanksgiving. During a holiday where people are supposed to give thanks, I could not help but to feel very unthankful and miserable. My emotions were all over the place and I felt angry and afraid most of the time. I understood that a diagnosis of mesothelioma meant a struggle ahead, and that most people did not make it through. I tried to stay hopeful, but I was afraid that I would lose my wife as things were spiraling out of control.
Although I had no celebration in me, we still managed to gather with Heather’s family for Thanksgiving and for Christmas too. We sat together as a family to discuss our finances because shortly after Christmas, Heather was supposed to receive her treatment. The conversation was difficult for me to handle and I felt overwhelmed. I knew that we were struggling financially, and I also knew that the expenses would continue to grow. Our money was decreasing as expenses increased. We talked about what we could liquidate for cash, and which bills my in-laws could afford to pay. I never imagined I would be spending the holidays in this manner, and I was embarrassed and ashamed.
It was not for another few years that I started to realize that even though I did not feel thankful that holiday season, I did have plenty to be thankful for. We had such an amazing support system, and our family was always by our sides throughout the entire ordeal. Our family constantly did what they could to help us through a time where we needed them the most, and they made incredible sacrifices for us without a moment’s hesitation. My pride and my fear blinded me at the time, but I can see clearly now how very lucky and blessed I am to have these wonderful and generous people in my life.
With the holiday season here again, I wanted to sit down and think of all the good things that I have in my life, and all of the reasons I have to give thanks. I am so thankful for the family and friends that Heather and I have. I am even more thankful for our beautiful and healthy little girl. Lastly, I am thankful to have received support and guidance from so many people who wanted to help us. I have a legitimate reason to want to celebrate this year. Thanks to the love and support of our family, my wife was able to make it through her mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments over the following months, and overcome cancer. I am thankful for the many holiday seasons we have been able to spend with one another since her diagnosis, and we look forward to many more. We hope that our story can be a source of hope and inspiration to all those currently battling cancer this holiday season.
🙂 🙂 🙂
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With Love, Bea