Guest post

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

  A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Heather, a survivor of Mesothelioma, 
to share her story on my blog.
I gladly accepted because I can not even imagine having to deal
 with such a thing and try to care of my sweet babies.
So you can read her story below and also head to her blog to read further!
The Trials and Triumphs of Raising Lily During Mesothelioma Treatment

Out of all the things I had done in my lifetime, it wasn’t until I had my daughter in August of 2005 that I really felt I had done something miraculous. My pregnancy was mostly uneventful since I had no complications, and once Lily arrived, we had our family – our “village”- to help us through the first few weeks. Our family and friends reminded us of the saying, “it takes a village”, and surely, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to our family.

That was until a wave of misfortune came our way. I had just gone back to work full-time when I started experiencing symptoms of fatigue and breathlessness. Everyone assured me these feelings were normal and all part of being a new mom. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think that something more may be going on, so I paid a visit to my doctor. I could never imagine the words I would hear.

Three months after giving birth to my little Lily, I would be diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer in the lining of the lung. It is primarily caused by asbestos, which I had been exposed to as a child. Who would have thought it would come back to haunt me, especially during the most significant time in my life.

I knew I couldn’t give up; I had to fight. My diagnosis was grim, and doctors were giving me 15 months to live if I did nothing. I couldn’t imagine Lily growing up without a mother by her side. I immediately booked a flight to Boston so that I could undergo an extrapleural pneumenectomy, which is where my left lung would be removed. I spent 18 days in the hospital and then started chemotherapy and radiation.

If this sounds overwhelming, one can imagine how I felt during this time. Lily stayed with my parents at my childhood home in South Dakota, and my parents emailed us pictures of her accomplishments like rolling over, scooting and trying solids for the first time. She looked happy, and she had so much love and attention back home. My parents, who were in their older years and also kept full-time jobs, also had their own “village” of friends and neighbors that helped watch Lily. It was amazing how everyone came together to give my little girl the love and support she needed.

Seeing the photos made me realize how hard I had to fight. I met people in Boston who were walking the same journey as us, and it was a wonderful feeling to have our own “village” who understood our hardships. As for many of our other friends back home, they simply took the easy way out and removed themselves from the picture.

You never really recover from cancer; it re-shapes you as a person and gives you a different outlook on life. Today, we embrace life and everything it has to offer, good and bad. I’m sure one day Lily will recite my favorite quote: “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

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