Remembering What to be Thankful For

Cameron Von ST. James from Roseville, MN., contacted me a week or so ago.  He had been following Joey’s story through my blog. He asked me if he could share his story. I could identify with so much of what he writes that I agreed to post it. The post below was written by Cameron. Please make my guest writer feel welcome and comment on this.

I’ve always loved spending time with my family and friends during the holidays. I was excited and overjoyed as I anticipated the start of the holiday season in 2005. My wife Heather had our baby girl Lily that August, and we couldn’t wait to celebrate our first holiday season together as a family. Planning for our holidays was quickly put on hold, however, when my wife was diagnosed with cancer just three days before Thanksgiving.

My wife’s diagnosis was malignant pleural mesothelioma, and our lives changed in an instant. It seemed as if we had just begun to plan for the holidays when we were soon planning a fight with cancer. The mesothelioma diagnosis made the future look very bleak for us. Therefore, I often found myself waiting for things to get worse than they already were. I felt that I had little to be thankful for that year.

For Thanksgiving that year, Heather’s family came in to celebrate with us. We had a chance to eat our holiday meal with them, and afterwards, we discussed ways that Heather’s family could help us through this hard time. It was a conversation that I had been nervous about for days.

The reason this conversation was such a dreaded one for me was because of the very personal topics that were discussed. We discussed all of our financial problems that were brought on by the diagnosis, and even how we would manage Lily during this time. Since our income was steadily diminishing, we had to have financial help; therefore, we even discussed how we could liquidate certain assets, and what bills Heather’s parents could afford to pay. Throughout the whole discussion, all I could feel was embarrassment and shame.

Years later, I finally began to realize the importance of that day. Due to my pride and my fear, I was blind to the fact that I was surrounded by the most caring family. They dropped everything in their own lives to be by our sides at a moment’s notice, and were willing to make huge sacrifices of their own to ensure our well being. Even though I could not realize this at the time, I understand it clearly now, and I am so thankful to each and every one of them.

There are many things that I am thankful for this holiday season, but most of all, I am thankful for my family. As for Heather, she beat her mesothelioma battle, and we have had the opportunity to celebrate seven Christmas’s together with Lily. We hope that our story of success against cancer will give hope to all those currently battling this holiday season.



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