Archive for December, 2012

Blog #5 A Story of “Hope” – Just in time for the Season

Blog #5     A Story of “Hope” – Just in time for the Season

When I think of the word “Hope” many things come to mind for me.  I remember the first day that my friend Alison and I went to Inspire Health in Vancouver and I had just recently been diagnosed with triple negative BC and was feeling pretty raw.   We ended up running into my friend (Life Coach) Lee Chamberland and I specifically remember saying to her “I know I am not going to die” and I believed it!  Hope is that force inside you that gives you that inner strength and resilience to overcome things like critical illness and tragedy.  It is here you truly learn the power of the mind and how everything is truly connected.   Like Lisa Hayes said “Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.”

My good friend Alison Granger-Brown who is completing her PHD Co blogged with me today:

Hope is defined as the ability to find pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself to use those pathways. Hope is a way of thinking or believing, with emotions playing an important contributory role. According to research people who experience high-hope levels are cognitively flexible and will actually change the rules in order to stretch their skills, they will push themselves to achieve new and more demanding goals.  If they meet a barrier they may well “regoal”. Belief and expectation are fundamental components of hope and can even block pain by releasing the brain’s endorphins and enkephalins, resulting in the same effects as morphine. The power of hope is not simply a placebo it is real, biologically based and vital to the healing process. Nurturing hope in ourselves and others is work more worthwhile than almost anything else I can think of.

My story today comes from a fellow named Cameron who lives in Roseville, Minnesota.  He contacted me one day to let me know he had come across my blog and really enjoyed it.  He too, has been on an amazing journey with his wife and “like me” thinks it is so crucial to share our story and message to help others.  Cameron’s wife was diagnosed with an extremely rare and deadly cancer called mesothelioma.  Normally when diagnosed with mesothelioma, a person has a life expectancy of about 3-12 months, but after intense treatment and recovery she is still here 6 ½ years later.

How My Family Made it Through a Cancer Diagnosis

My wife has said to me on several occasions that she is in the dark about what I went through as her caregiver when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. We weren’t expecting to hear news like this only three months after the arrival of our only child, and it was difficult. We’ve talked about it one time, but that’s not enough to cover everything that I felt and dealt with in the face of this difficult time.

I remember it clearly. Lily, our only child, was only three months old. We were so happy and so full of joy. I remember Heather’s doctor looking at her and uttering the dreaded words; she had cancer. My wife cried, and I wondered how we could get through something like this.
I was so angry, and I took it out on a lot of people. I used some less than flattering language to communicate, and I’m not proud of it. I knew I was wrong, and I knew I needed to be strong for my wife so that she had someone to look to for optimism and hope. I finally controlled my emotions and began being that rock she so desperately needed. It wasn’t easy, however. My list of things to do was so long and so overwhelming that many days I wondered how I could possibly get through it all. Fortunately, I quickly learned to start accepting help as it was offered from our friends and family members. I was still overwhelmed by the entire situation, but they made it so much easier for me.

When Heather had to go to Boston for her mesothelioma surgery, we decided to send Lily to Heather’s parent’s house in South Dakota. Since I had to work and couldn’t give Heather the time and care she needed to recover from her surgery and prepare to begin chemotherapy and radiation, we decided to send her to South Dakota after her surgery to stay with her parents as well. She and Lily spent two months there, while I remained behind to work and take care of our home. I missed them so much, and I was able to see them only once.

I left work on a Friday night and drove the 11 hours to my in-law’s home. I drove through a snowstorm on the way, and I had to stop for a few hours and wait for the plows to clear the roads. When I finally arrived, I was exhausted, but I got to spend all of Saturday with them before I had to get up Sunday and make the 11-hour drive back home to be at work on Monday morning.

It wasn’t easy being separated from my family for so long, but I don’t regret making this decision. We were so fortunate to even be in a situation where we could make decisions, so it’s hard to look back on it with anger, sadness, or regret. I learned so many things during this time in our lives, though the thing that sticks out the most is to never regret the tough decisions that cancer forces us to make. Rather, take comfort in the control we gain from being able to make decisions at all, over a situation that is all too often completely out of our control.

Heather has been well for over six years now, and each day we are so thankful that she beat the odds. I hope that our story can be a source of comfort and inspiration to all those currently battling through cancer today.

A special thank you to Cameron and his wife Heather for sharing their amazing story and reminding us that life is truly a gift, not to be taken for granted.

Hold Hope for yourself and for others.

Merry Christmas to all and may the season be filled with love, laughter, health and happiness.

 

The Anatomy Of Hope: How people prevail in the face of illness by Jerome Groopman(2004) is a fascinating read.

 

 

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December 21, 2012 at 6:33 am Leave a comment


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