Saturday, April 6, 2013

Neighbor Kary May's Radio Show: Guest Speaker; The Husband Of A Survivor

Not my porch, but it sure makes you want to come "sit a spell", don't it?  I'm back in CO and getting settled back in. I'm so glad to be home!  I love Mexico but this is "home".  Unfortunately, the cap'n has the exact opposite feeling.  We'd probably rich by now if both of us weren't so stubborn about maintaining our individual homes.  Oh well, we'll scratch by a little longer.

 Some of you may remember way back when, when I was still trying to moderate, I would reserve Saturdays to try and forget that I had a drinking problem. One way I do this was by holding Neighbor Kary May's Radio Show and I'd gab on about anything and everything but my drinking.  Neighbor Kary May's Radio Show never got very high ratings and I decided to pull it off the air, but this Saturday I decided it needed a revival.  I no longer have to reserve Saturdays to act like I'm not a drunk, because I ain't anymore.  The longer I'm sober, the further and further I move into the "real" world, meeting people and hearing their stories of struggle that have nothing whatsoever to do with drinking, but everything to do with survival.  We know a thing or two about surviving, don't we?

I'm not sure how Cameron found my blog, but a couple of weeks ago he sent me the story of his and his wife's struggle and triumph over cancer.  It doesn't matter how he found me, what matters is that he did, and at a time when I most needed to hear his story. I no longer believe that anything happens by accident and I know that all the things we need will find their way to us when it's time.   I'll be going to help my daughter-in-law who is under going chemotherapy next week and I'll be carrying Cameron and his wife's story a long with me.  Thank you, Cameron, but I want to hear more, I want to hear your stories, your stories of despair and how you found hope shining in the darkest corners.  I want to hear about every person that held you up when you couldn't stand on your own anymore.  I want to hear how you kept up the facade of strength for your wife when you were crumbling inside. I'm a big champion of blogs and I think you should write one because a lot of people need to hear your story. There are probably a lot of blogs written by people who are battling cancer and people who have survived cancer, but I bet there aren't enough blogs written by the people who are holding their hands through it all.  The husband of one of my friends who is a breast cancer survivor says, "It's not only the patient who gets cancer."  Just like it's not only the alcoholic who suffers the effects of the disease.

Thank you Cameron for working so hard to get your message of hope out to the ones that need to hear it.  We know a little bit about that too.

Ladies and Gentlemen may I present Cameron!

A Hard Fought Battle with Cancer

My world was shattered on November 21, 2005, the day my wife Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.  It was the day I became more than a husband and a father to a 3-month-old daughter.  I became a caregiver to my precious wife, and together we began a long and difficult journey to save her life.

We were the proud parents of lovely newborn Lily, both of us employed at jobs we enjoyed, in a home we had built together.  Now, all of that was at risk -- my Heather could die and I would be left alone, my daughter left motherless.  After we received the diagnosis, we were given a handful of treatment options that might be able to help Heather.  Of all the options presented to us, one in particular stood out.  It was a doctor in Boston named David Sugarbaker, who specialized in treating this rare and deadly cancer.  The choice was easy, and I told the doctor to get us to Boston as soon as possible.

From that point forward, our lives were chaotic. Heather was unable to work, and I had to scale back to part time in order to care for her.  Our schedules revolved around doctor appointments, traveling to and from Boston and taking care of Lily.  We lost all semblance of the life we had known, now warriors against an invisible and destructive enemy.   

I was lost, unsure how to balance the demands of a household, a young child, a seriously ill wife and a job.  My new responsibilities, coupled with the crushing fears and anxiety over what could happen weighed me down more and more each day, and I quickly became overwhelmed.  Luckily, I found out quickly that I did not need to fight this battle alone.

In an answer to prayers, family, friends and even strangers offered everything from kind words of encouragement to desperately needed financial help.  Suddenly lots of people were fighting for us, a consequence of my willingness (in spite of my pride) to say "yes" when asked if I needed help.  I cannot express what it meant to have so many be concerned for Heather, Lily and me.  Our lives,  despite the horrors of Heather's illness, were enriched by having supporters in our fight against it.  

The kindness of these people led me to believe in the impossible, to face that which I thought I couldn't and to reach beyond myself when consumed with fear.  

Over the following months, Heather would undergo many difficult treatments in the attempt to rid her body of cancer.  She would have surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, and in the end with the help of our friends and family she was able to defy the odds against her.  She has been cancer free for over six years. 

Now, over seven years after her heartbreaking mesothelioma diagnosis, we’d like to share our story in the attempt to inspire hope in all those still fighting their cancer battles today.  Never give up hope, and never stop fighting for the ones you love.  


  1. Wow - wonderful, amazing stuff. I certainly would love to read a blog about Cameron's and his family's struggle. Not that struggle is fun to read, of course, but it brings us into the fold of humanity and let's us see life in a different way, through different eyes. Regardless, this is powerful stuff, and thank you so much for sharing it.


  2. I love how we were commenting on each others' blogs at the same time Kary!

    Thanks to Cameron for sharing his story. My thoughts are with him and his family.

    Kary, if you want to talk off-line, e-mail me. I saw my aunt and mom do battle with cancer (my aunt with breast and ovarian cancers, my mom with lung cancer), then I saw my mother-in-law fight bladder cancer, now my dog is battling lymphoma. I've been all over the emotional roller coaster--caregiving is tough, seeing those we love struggle and hurt and change is tough, the monotony is tough, the grief is tough, coping without alcohol is tough, trying to keep it all together is tough, having to be strong for others is tough, but still hope and joy and love remain---and clinging to those makes everything else a little bit easier.

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