About a month ago Heather reached out to me and asked if she could share her story on my blog to raise awareness about her battle with a rare and almost always deadly form of cancer. A form of cancer that is actually preventable. My life has been touched in far too many ways by cancer and I loved the idea of using my little corner of the internet to possibly save a life. Thank you Heather for sharing your story
When my seven-year-old daughter is asked about my cancer, she automatically says, "I saved my mom’s life." She now says it as casually and in the same tone of voice she would use to declare hunger or feeling sick. Telling people about my cancer has become a part of her, something that some people find hard to understand. My daughter speaks the truth, though. She saved my life.
I was 35, and had been married to my husband, Cameron, for seven years before considering a family. I had thought it might take some time to become pregnant, but it took only three months. I was very excited and happy, but also nervous and shocked. Many thoughts raced around my mind, namely what sort of mother I would be. Above all, the most important thing was being a good mother.
My pregnancy was trouble-free until the birth, when I had a C-section because our daughter was breech. The fear I felt immediately turned to joy when I held my daughter for the first time. Looking at her, I knew I would do anything to protect and love her and make her happy. I would dedicate my life to making Lily the best person she could be. She was perfect and I felt such love for her that I could not conceive of the chaos that was coming.
Lily was less than four months old when I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. I was so shocked at that moment, I was unable to speak, and I could not focus on the doctor telling us that I would need immediate treatment or face death in 15 months. All I could think about was dying and leaving Cameron and Lily alone in this world. My husband did the listening for me and immediately chose a drastic treatment plan that would give me the best chance for survival. This plan would mean the loss of my left lung, along with the removal of lining from my diaphragm and heart.
We traveled to Boston to see one of the best mesothelioma doctors in the world, who performed the surgery. Afterwards, I had an 18-day recovery period in the hospital followed by two weeks in an outpatient clinic. I then went to South Dakota to spend the next two months convalescing in my parents’ home. Lily was already being cared for there while Cameron continued to work, so I was able to be with her, as I grew stronger. Eventually, I returned to Minnesota to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
As traumatic as all of this was, I survived. I’m here. Mesothelioma has a 95 percent mortality rate, and I am very lucky to be alive now. Lily is right when she says that she literally saved my life.