- multiple myeloma
- malignant melanoma
- stage IV pancreatic cancer
- bladder cancer
Thus, I was touched by Heather's story and I am only too happy to share it with you. Following is her post:
Learning Thanks Through Cancer
I've heard it a thousand times, and maybe you have as well: It takes a village to raise a child. My own child, my daughter Lily, was born on August 4, 2005. When she arrived, my husband and I found our home was always full of our friends and family, all of whom wanted to meet Lily and love her. At that moment, life couldn't get any better. Unfortunately, we had no idea of the pain and fear that lay ahead.
I returned to work full time after a short while, and I began to feel less than perfect. I was breathless, tired, and I had zero energy. I might have assumed that it was just a result of being a new mom, but my doctor had other ideas. When Lily was three and a half months old, on November 21, he diagnosed me with mesothelioma cancer. To be exact, he diagnosed me with malignant pleural mesothelioma; being exposed to asbestos during my childhood caused it. My doctor told me that if I did nothing, I would have about fifteen months to live. That wasn't enough for me. We had to act fast.
I decided to go to Boston and see Dr. David Sugarbaker, one of the world's best mesothelioma doctors. I let him perform surgery to remove one of my lungs on February 2 2006. For the next 18 days, I recovered in the hospital, making new friends with the people there for the same reason. These amazing people helped me so much to take things one day at a time. From there, I had another two months of recovery to handle. After that, I'd go through treatments that included both radiation and chemotherapy.
During this time, Lily was with my parents in my childhood home in South Dakota. Their friends and family were so supportive of them. This is really where our "village" came into play. The people I babysat for as a child were adults with their own families now, and they were helping to care for Lily while my parents were at work during the day. Their church friends, people I had always looked up to growing up were always around to provide comfort and support. We both had our own little villages to help us make it through. My mom always sent pictures of Lily, which is the only way I was able to see so many of her firsts, like rolling over and eating solid foods. I missed her so much; however, I knew I was doing what I needed to do in order to be there for the rest of her life, and on top of that, cancer taught me so much.
What I learned is that cancer is obviously bad, but surprisingly, with it comes some good. As a family, we appreciate every single day together, and we live each day to the absolute fullest. We always remember to laugh, and we truly don't take anything for granted. Cancer gave us that gift and, for that, I am grateful.
Note: Heather wrote me that she is now cancer free, but she is trying to "turn her pain into purpose and become someone other people can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like my own." Heather's blog is: www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather
When I get another moment or two, I'll try to provide a live link to her blog. For all of us who are dealing with cancer with someone in our families, or our own cancer, Heather's message is one of hope and compassion. I hope you were as touched by it as I was. We spend a lot of time on sarcastic remarks and nonsense on my blog, but I receive letters and comments all the time about how a particular photo brought a moment of hope and peace and joy, and I feel that we are at least doing some good.