A few weeks ago a fellow mother and cancer survivor, Heather, reached out to me to share her story. She requested to share her story with my readers in an effort to spread awareness and hopefully prevent mesothelioma cancer from happening to others as it is 100% preventable. I would like to share her journey with you. She is a very courageous lady who has triumphed against cancer. I hope this post encourages you and continues to spread awareness!
Good in the Midst of Mesothelioma
At the age of 36, life was peaceful and happy. My beautiful daughter, Lily, had
been born on Aug 4, 2005 and we were showered with love and support from both
sets of her grandparents, other family members, and many friends. I had just started
back to work after her birth when this peaceful scene crashed in around me. I found
myself tired and out of breath all the time and I was losing 5-7 pounds a week.
These symptoms could have been attributed to being a new mom, but I felt there
was more to it.
After seeing the doctor and going through a myriad of tests, on November 21,
2005, the culprit was found in the diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma,
cancer in the lung lining. I had unknowingly been exposed to asbestos as a child and
it took 30 years to show it’s symptoms. Like most mesothelioma patients, my
prognosis was grim and I was given 15 months to live if nothing was done. My first
thoughts were of my sweet 3 and 1/2 month old daughter and my husband. I knew I
had to do whatever it took to survive so they wouldn't be without me.
We did the drastic thing of flying to Boston where I could be under the care of the
best mesothelioma doctor. On February 2, 2006 I went through extrapleural
pneumonectomy with the removal of my left lung. There was 18 days in the hospital
and 2 more months recovery before chemotherapy and radiation treatments. All this
time I was trying to be the best mom I could be.
Lily traveled to my childhood home in South Dakota to be with my parents when I
was not able to care for her. My parents didn't hesitate to take on the role of caring
for her and I knew she was in the best hands possible. There was also a whole
village of people supporting them. The people from church that I knew and looked up
to as a child surrounded my parents with love and support. Women with families of
their own whom I had babysat when young babysat Lily in order for my parents to
keep their full time jobs.
I had new amazing friends in Boston that surrounded me with support, people that
were going through the same thing I was. And the nurses tried to ease the pain of
missing the milestones Lily was making without me. I could only witness her new
achievements of eating solids, scooting, and rolling around by the grainy black and
white pictures my husband printed from emails my mom sent me. We would ooh and
aah together as I tried not to cry. Those pictures reminded me of why I was fighting
for my life.
Those were very difficult times, but good came from them too. The bond between
Lily and my parents is deeper than ever, even with the months that sometimes go
between visits. We have learned that life is fragile and we try to embrace each day
and do the best we can. We love and cherish all those people that have been there
for us. And I am thankful for the good that has come from our trial.
To learn more about mesothelioma,