“15 Months To Live”

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Heather and Lily

Today I am sharing with you a guest post from a Mother who was diagnosed with Cancer. when her daughter was only 3 1/2 months old. She was diagnosed with Mesothelioma; a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it.

After intense treatment and recovery, she is cancer free! She would like to turn her pain into purpose and become someone that other people can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like hers. I realize that you may be thinking her story is not exactly a perfect fit for my blog audience, but I chose to share her journey with you as her story touched my heart. I would like to help her to raise awareness of this horrible little known cancer that is such a deadly killer (and sadly, 100% preventable) and the dangers of asbestos. She first contacted me about guest posting while I was out of town for my Aunt’s funeral who had just passed from Leukemia. My best friend from child hood is currently fighting Stage IV Brain Cancer so Cancer has touched my life.

Let me introduce you to Heather!

“15 Months to Live” by Heather:

One of the worst days of my life took place on November 21, 2005. That day, I was told I had malignant pleural mesothelioma — a quite deadly type of cancer. I got this form of cancer because I was exposed to asbestos 30 years earlier. I was only a child at the time. Along with the news that I had cancer, my doctor told me that my life expectancy was 15 months unless treatment began as soon as possible.

Just a few months before this fateful day, our daughter Lily was born. The date was August 4, 2005 and it was one of the best days I have ever had. However, I was soon feeling run-down, tired and out of breath. Despite this, I went back to work, believing I was just experiencing after pregnancy symptoms. I was wrong. The feelings persisted. That is when I went to my doctor to have a check-up. He ran a barrage of tests and then gave me the diagnosis. I was horrified. I could not leave my daughter so soon after she was born.

Thankfully, my support group was amazing. My husband and his family were there for me and us. My parents were there for the three of us. Their friends, our friends and even old acquaintances formed a village around us and became an even more special part of my life. We have always had a close-knit community of loved ones, but they really pulled together after my diagnosis and during my treatment. I had to go to Boston to see a mesothelioma doctor and be treated in the city. My parents took Lily in at their South Dakota home — my childhood home. I hated being so far from her, but I knew I needed this treatment if I wanted more than 15 months with her.

The first round of my treatment came on February 2, 2006. The procedure is known as an extrapleural pneumonectomy. In other words, my lung and the tissue around it were removed. I spent the next 18 days in the hospital recovering from that. Two months after that, I was doing radiation and chemotherapy. I was still very sick, but my village had grown. We made new friends in Boston who understood what we were going through better than anyone. We needed them and they needed us.

Back with Lily, my parents were building up their own village. People from long ago, like adults that I used to baby-sit when they were children, were stepping up to help my parents. Words are not enough to express how much I appreciate their help.

Without these people, I would not have had the strength to fight mesothelioma. Today, I am cancer free and living life to its fullest. I spend all of my days with Lily. I cherish every minute of time that I almost lost. I cannot take life for granted. I know all too well that it can change in a moment.

To read more about her journey please click here: www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather

Thank you for reading!

Michelle

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