Monday, January 7, 2013

Guest Post: The Need for Others During My Struggle with Mesothelioma

(Note from Tay: I was approached by Heather in late December about doing a guest post. She told me her story without even knowing a little bit about mine. Instantly, she reminded me of someone: My own mother. Not many people know, but my mom died when I was 15 from cancer. But this isn't about me; it's about Heather and her family. Stories like hers remind me of the quote about being kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own kind of battle [#26ActsOfKindness]. Since it's the New Year, it's genuinely the best time to show kindness, radiate positivity, and like Heather says, make the best out of every situation.)

The following is her guest post:

The Need for Others During My Struggle with Mesothelioma

We are dependent upon others throughout our lives. This dependency became apparent when, on August 4, 2005, my daughter Lily was born. It became even more apparent to me less than four months later, on November 21, when I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Things had been going great for myself, my daughter and the others in my life. The
diagnosis of mesothelioma brought everything to a crashing halt. I was 36 years old, but needed the help of others.
The symptoms of the disease began to appear following the birth of Lily and after I had returned to working full-time. I was feeling tired and breathless, and was loosing 5 to 7 pounds every week. I attributed my condition to the effects of being a new mother, but then decided to visit my doctor. After a myriad of tests, the culprit was identified. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lung that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. In my case, this occurred when I was a child.

I was initially informed that I had only 15 months to live. My first thoughts were of my baby. I also thought of my husband and of the prospect of them having to go on without me. I had to do whatever it would take to save my life, for their sake if nothing else.

Joined by my husband, I traveled from my home in South Dakota to Boston, where I sought care from one of the best mesothelioma doctors. I underwent a procedure that required the removal of my left lung. I then spent 18 days in the hospital, after which I began chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

A was unable to care for Lily during the period of treatment and recuperation, and had to turn the task over to my parents. There were a host of others who helped out. Girls I had cared for as a baby sitter volunteered to care for Lily when my parents had to work. Others with whom I had grown up also offered their assistance.
My contact with Lily came in the form of copies of pictures. These grainy images were enough to remind me that she was the reason I had to fight for my life. My struggle has also taught me something that I can share with others, and that is to embrace and make the best of everything that life throws at you! 

To learn more about Heather, visit her Facebook Page

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