Tag Archives: inspiration

Caregiving lessons: hope for those called to help

caregiving lessons of hope

Photo courtesy of AlicePopkorn

Today I welcome the insight of a special caregiver. Cameron Von St. James has been kind enough to share his struggles and triumphs as a caregiver for his wife Heather. While every caregiving journey is different, we all share the same fears, frustrations, and overwhelming emotions that sometimes threaten to derail our efforts on behalf of those we love most. Read Cameron’s story here and then watch his inspirational video. I wish Cameron and his family many continued blessings and want to thank him for providing inspiration to help others dealing with similar challenges.

Being a Caregiver and Holding Onto Hope
By Cameron Von St. James

For my wife Heather and me, life completely changed on November 21, 2005. It was on that day that a doctor told us Heather had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and very deadly type of cancer. On that day, I became her caregiver, and I quickly learned that I was not prepared for the job. Only three months earlier, we were celebrating the birth of our first and only child, Lily. We pictured spending the late fall celebrating Thanksgiving and getting ready for our first Christmas as a family of three. Instead, we spent it in doctors’ offices, and our lives quickly became characterized by chaos.

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Roadblocks and Setbacks

Roadblock , Do Not Enter, DetourEver had one of those days where absolutely everything goes wrong? You know, a day full of roadblocks and setbacks, enough to make you feel like you just can’t do anything right. That was yesterday for me.

Setback 1: It started early with oatmeal, of all things. I’ve cooked it the same dependable way for years but yesterday it turned out watery for some reason. An attempt to fix the problem then turned my oatmeal into a substance similar to concrete just before it hardens.

Setback 2: After arriving at work, a trip to the restroom and a look in the mirror revealed a stain on my sweater in a color I could not identify, remove or hide. Was the concrete oatmeal to blame?

Roadblock 3: A project I have been conceptualizing, writing and obsessing over for the last two and a half months got shot down, forcing me against my will back to square one. I could see the fireball and smoke for miles in every direction.

Setback 4: While attempting to operate a fire extinguisher in my brain, I forgot a parent teacher conference scheduled immediately after work and was reminded by the frantic “Where are you?” phone call ten minutes before the appointment time.

Roadblock 5: A pounding headache kept me from focusing on the conversation after arriving late to the parent teacher conference.

Obviously, I was in a serious funk and needed some help to get over it. I tried a few strategies, all with varying degrees of success or failure, depending on how you look at it.

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