So those of you that actually read this hot mess of a blog know that I like to (attempt to) raise awareness for good causes. In October I wrote about Domestic Violence and the importance of Donating Blood.
Last week I had someone email me asking to guest post and she has an amazing story about her journey with Mesothelioma. So without fail; here's Heather.
Cancer Brought about Something Good.
It’s a saying that everybody has heard, but lots of people don’t truly understand what it means. I can say from personal experience, that it truly It does take a village to raise a child. My husband and I learned that firsthand after our daughter was born on August 4, 2005. For the first few months of her life, our home was full of friends and family all so eager to help with her. We loved it. We loved Lily, and we thought life was great. I soon went back to work full-time and began noticing that something was wrong. Maybe other moms would have attributed it to new mom symptoms, because I was tired and fatigued and I had no energy. However, I was also breathless and just feeling bad.
I learned that as a child, I was exposed to asbestos. That made sense when my doctor diagnosed me with malignant pleural mesothelioma. He said that I’d have 15 months to live if I did not get treatment. Looking at my little family, I knew that wasn’t an option. As any mother would, I knew I’d do whatever it took to stay alive for my family; and that’s exactly what I did.
I sent my daughter to live in South Dakota with my parents. I went to Boston to have a popular mesothelioma surgery by the best mesothelioma doctor around. I had my left lung removed and I lived in the hospital for 18 days after that. I spent another two months recovering and then I started chemotherapy and radiation. While I was in Boston, I made some amazing friends. They were people who were there for the exact same reasons that I was. We connected on such an indescribable level. They understood what I was going through and I understood them. They made the days easier for me. They were part of my “village” that got me through everything.
I missed Lily so much, but she was in good hands. I was amazed at the number of people who stepped forward to help my parents care for Lily. They both worked full time and needed someone to care for her during the day while they were at work. Old friends, our church friends, and even kids I once babysat for, who were now grown up, offered to help. I still missed all the new things Lily did while I was away from her. Even with the pictures my mom sent that my husband printed, it was so difficult to be away from her and miss her so much. I knew in my heart though, that I was doing the right thing so that I could be there with her for many more years.
However, I learned a lot from this experience. First and foremost, I learned that with all the bad in any situation still comes something good. In our case, it was the fact that we realized how many people are in our “village” and how much support we have from so many people! Most importantly, it’s that that we now recognize just how precious life is, and we are grateful for that.
You can read more about Heather and her journey here on her blog.
Here are a few extra facts and statistics about mesothelioma (because I can't live without facts and stats)
- The main risk factor for mesothelioma is working with asbestos.
- Around 14 to 30 people out of every million will be affected by mesothelioma each year
- More than 2,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each yea
- Males are four times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than females.
- The number of mesothelioma deaths has increased from 153 in 1968 to 2 347 in 2010. Over 80% of deaths were among men mainly due to asbestos exposures in the workplace.