I don’t normally host blog posts from other people, but I’ve recently come in contact with Heather and her story touched me quite a bit, so here goes her testimony (for once some serious business will go on in this otherwise silly place). You can also read all about her here.
The birth of your first child changes your life, as did the birth of my daughter Lily on August 4, 2005. However, our joy was not to last long. After returning to work when Lily was about a month old, I felt as if something was wrong with me. I had no energy and was constantly tired. I started losing weight rapidly, and I knew it was a symptom of something more than motherhood.
3 ½ months after Lily’s birth and a myriad of tests later, my doctor diagnosed me with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. This type of cancer is specifically caused by exposure to asbestos, and I had been unknowingly exposed as a child. If I wanted to live longer than fifteen months, I had to accept treatment.
I thought of my beautiful new daughter and the life she would have without me. The idea of leaving her and my husband alone devastated me. My husband and I decided that we would fight. We traveled from our home in Minnesota to Boston where I would receive the most drastic treatment available to me by the best mesothelioma doctor. Almost six months after Lily was born, on February 2, 2006 I had an extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery to remove the cancerous lung, half my diaphragm and parts of my chest and heart lining. I spent 18 days in the hospital after my surgery, and then after another 2 months of recovery I began chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
While my husband and I were in Boston, Lily stayed with my parents in South Dakota. I am so grateful to them and the many friends and family who volunteered to help with Lily. It was only because of the wonderful network of people taking care of my daughter that I was able to get through my surgery and treatments. Instead of thinking of the important moments in Lily’s life I was missing, I concentrated on getting well so I could be there for the rest of her life. It was so hard, but I knew she was in the best hands possible.
I don’t think I could have beaten the cancer had it not been for Lily and the family and friends that supported me. We all have a deeper appreciation for life and how fragile it can be. I think the key to success in pulling through any difficult situation is to find the good that will come of it.