Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Truth About Mesothelioma And One Woman's Journey


I met this amazing woman, Heather, and wanted to help her spread her story...



How My Daughter Saved My Life

Most 7-year-old children don’t know anything about cancer, but my daughter knows more than she should.  When asked about this deadly disease that strikes fear into the hearts of adults, she will simply say that she saved my life.  She’s very matter-of-fact about it, and that sometimes leads people to believe that she doesn't understand the deadly nature of cancer.  However, she understands more than most, and she is right that she saved my life.

Not wanting to rush into having children, my husband and I waited seven years before we even started talking about it.  I was 35, and Cameron and I were nervous about having a child at our age.  It only took us three months to conceive, and we were blissfully happy at the news.  I was nervous and a little scared, but the overwhelming emotion was excitement.  I couldn't wait to become a mother and enter the next stage of my life.  I wasn't worried about being a fun mom or even a cool mom – I just wanted to be a great mom and love my child.

I was blessed with a smooth pregnancy.  I joked that I could have gone through pregnancy about a dozen times because mine was so incredibly easy, but things got a little scary at the end.  My sweet daughter, Lily, was breech and I was rushed into surgery for an emergency C-section.  I laughed that her head would be round instead of cone-shaped because I believe in finding the positive aspect in any situation.  When they finally handed me my perfect little girl, I knew that I would do everything in my power to protect her, nourish her, love her and help her grow to be an incredible woman.  Holding her in my arms for the first time, nothing else in the world mattered to me.  She was my life, and I could spend all day just holding her and admiring her perfect little features.  During that blissful time in the hospital, I had no idea that a major life-changing storm was brewing.

Lily was just 3 ½-months-old when I first heard the words malignant pleural mesothelioma.  You cannot imagine how shocking it is to be in the prime of your life, entering what should be the most exciting time and discover that you could be gone in only 15 months.  That’s what the doctors told me my prognosis was if I didn't start immediate treatment.  I remember sitting there, stunned, trying to figure out what I would do.  My daughter and I didn't even know each other yet.  Would she even remember me?  As I was busy trying to absorb the news and struggling with the shock, Cameron was moving into survival mode.  He set his feelings on the back burner so he could do what was necessary at that moment.  While I was still trying to get my feet under me, he was listening to the doctor, digesting information on treatments and making important decisions about our next step.  It was Cameron who decided that I would have to travel to Boston to meet with one of the top mesothelioma specialists in the country.  The procedure they suggested included removing my entire left lung, the lining of my heart and my diaphragm.  The recovery period in the hospital would be 18 days, with another two weeks at a nearby outpatient facility in Boston.  Two more months would be spent at my parent’s house in South Dakota trying to recover and reclaim my life.  Finally, after months of surgery and recovery, I would return to Minnesota to start radiation and chemotherapy treatments that would allow me to beat this deadly disease.  I couldn't have made all of those decisions if Cameron hadn't been there focusing on the important information, but it was this course of treatment that saved my life.

Following this treatment meant turning my baby over to my parents for the first few months of her precious life, but it meant that I would be there for her later.  I was willing to sacrifice this small time of her life as an infant to be there for her on her first day of school, graduation and to eventually walk her down the aisle along with her father.  The sacrifice was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it was worth it to ensure that I could be around to see my child grow.



The sad fact about mesothelioma is that it has a 95 percent mortality rate.  The odds were not in my favor, and I consider myself incredibly blessed to have survived it.  However, I don’t think I could have done it without Lily waiting for me.  Knowing that my daughter needed me and thinking about everything I would miss is what gave me the strength to keep fighting.  This is why I give my daughter so much credit, and it’s why she can so calmly say to people, “I saved my mommy’s life.”





You can read more about Heather's amazing struggle of survival at:

www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather

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