Today, in a change of pace, I’m offering a guest post from a reader. Heather contacted me and told me about her battle with Mesothelioma. She asked me if it was okay to share her story here. You know I’m a big fan of sharing my health own health struggles, so I told her I would love for her to write a guest post (plus, it takes the pressure off of me as I adjust to motherhood and get ready for an international trip with a squirmy infant )
She has a blog dedicated to Mesothelioma awareness and her personal struggle with the deadly disease. Be sure to check it out.
Even if you like to think of yourself as independent, there comes a time when you just need to let others catch you. My time of reckoning came on August 4th, 2005, and I could not have been less prepared. My daughter had been born just recently, and on paper, things were going better than ever.
However, on November 21, 2005, just a short three and a half months after my darling Lily was born, the doctor told me I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. This cancer attacks the lining of the lung, and it is caused by asbestos, which I had been unwittingly exposed to as a child. Thirty years later, just as I was becoming a mother, I had this aggressive illness.
The first thing I thought of was Lily. Without treatment, I would have about 15 months to live. I thought about Lily, I looked at my husband, and I couldn’t bear the thought of them trying to go ahead without me. We agreed that we would do whatever it took to try and save my life.
Given the severity of the mesothelioma prognosis, we decided to do the most drastic thing we could. My doctor suggested we meet with one of the best mesothelioma doctors, we agreed and flew out to Boston. On February 2nd, 2006, I underwent a surgery known as extrapleural pneumenectomy, where my left lung was removed. After 18 days of recovery in the hospital and another two months of recovery at home, I was ready to start chemotherapy and radiation. During this time, while I was feeling exhausted and weary, I was also trying to be the best new mom I could!
While I was in Boston, my mother took on taking care of Lily back in my childhood home of South Dakota. My parents went from being grandparents to full time caregivers in one day.. But fortunately they were not doing it alone. The whole town seemed to come out to help. There were people from church who volunteered their time to watch Lily, and also girls who I had used to babysit who were now grown with families of their own who generously babysat Lily.
In South Dakota, my precious daughter was learning to eat solid foods, to scoot and roll, and was simply growing. I saw this in the black and white copies of the pictures that my mom emailed and that husband printed out for me. The nurses would ooh and ahh over her with me, while I was trying so hard to hold back tears.
Hopefully, you will never be in the position that I was in, but if you ever are, embrace it. Even in the awfulness of the cancer, I learned things that will stay with my entire life, and it taught me things I would never have learned otherwise.
Our whole families outlook has changed for the better now. We never take a day for granted, and we always make sure to see the good in anything bad that comes our way. For that, I am thankful.
Thank you, Heather!
I will be back soon, readers! If it helps, remember that it will be my birthday soon. I like electronics and things that make me smell pretty. Thanks.