Monday, February 11, 2013

Guest Post

This is a post written by a very courageous wife, mother, and mesothelioma survivor named Heather.  She asked me to post this for her to help raise awareness of this disease.  Here is here blog, if you would like to read more!

Overcoming Cancer for Lily
When I was 36 years old, my life was completely turned upside down. On August 4, 2005, our beautiful daughter Lily was born. Everything was going great. My husband and I were perfectly content with our lives. Our family was surrounded by loved ones wanting to meet Lily and things were perfect. We had no idea that everything was going to change.

Shortly after Lily was born, I went back to work. It did not take very long for me to realize that I was constantly tired and I was losing up to 7 pounds per week. Even though these symptoms could be considered normal for someone who had recently given birth, I knew deep down that something was wrong. Sure enough, I was right. 

I went to my doctor's office only to undergo my fair share of tests. It did not take long to come back with the diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma. I soon found out that I had been around that deadly white dust when I was a kid and that is how my exposure to asbestos happened. My doctor told me that if I did not get treatment, I would only live 15 months. In a mother’s mind: I would not be around to see Lily's second birthday.

My husband and I made the agreement that we were going to do everything in our power to beat this horrible sickness. We chose the most drastic form of treatment available to us, knowing that it would take us far away from our home in Minnesota. The day that I flew to Boston for surgery- my mother and Lily flew from our home to her home in South Dakota. My parents went from being grandparents to Lily to being her full time caretakers. On February 2, 2006, I underwent an extrapleural pneumonectomy with one of the best mesothelioma doctors there is, Dr. David Sugarbaker. My entire left lung was removed in this surgery, along with all of the surrounding tissue. I spent 18 days recovering in the hospital after surgery. It was so hard to be away from Lily while I was in the hospital. After the hospital, I spent 2 more weeks recovering in an outpatient home in Boston before finally being able to go to my parents house in South Dakota and seeing my baby girl again.

I was so thankful that my parents were able to step in and care for Lily along with countless other people -some who were total strangers to me. I will never be able to express the gratitude I feel towards these people for the kindness that they have given my family. It is hard to think of those precious moments that I missed when Lily was tiny. However, knowing that she was in the right hands certainly helped put my mind at ease while I was recovering.

Cancer was not a good part of my life at all-but I was able to find some good from the whole situation. Now, I look back and I realize how much more I appreciate even the tiny things. If I have any advice to give to anyone, it would be to appreciate life every day. Don’t take the little things for granted because you never know when they could be gone.

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