Heather contacted me to see if she could help spread her story on my blog. I said, "Absolutely!" I think it's a wonderful lesson in hope.
Lessons from Cancer: Surviving the Impossible
Throughout life we are taught all kinds of important lessons, especially ones about humility and strength. There are times when you think you can't ever come down from happiness, but then life throws a curve ball. I got that curve ball about eight years ago. It was just 3 ½ months after I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Lily. It was so unexpected that it's still hard for me to believe now. I was so happy when Lily was in my arms that I could never imagine what was to come just 3 ½ months later.
I went to work full time after the baby came. I was tired all of the time and I began to notice that I was losing weight at a rate of about 5 to 7 pounds per week. Something was wrong, but I didn't really know what it was. My doctor had to run a lot of tests, and it was just three days before Thanksgiving when I went back to hear the diagnosis. I was expecting some kind of vitamin deficiency, something that I had been forgetting to do all this time that was suddenly catching up with me.
As my husband and I sat in the doctor's office, I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer that infiltrates the lining of your lungs and other organs. The doctor only gave me 15 months to live without treatment. That simply wasn't going to happen. I had to be there for my daughter and husband. It was the only thing going through my mind. I wasn't done with life. There were a few hospitals, but no one had the program that we needed except for a specialist in Boston.
I traveled from Minnesota to Boston and my surgery was on February 2, 2006. The surgery I had was an Extrapleural pneumonectomy, which removed my left lung, part of my chest lining, heart lining, and diaphragm. I spent 18 days recovering in the hospital, and after another 2 months of recovery I began chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Some days were worse than others, and I'll never forget trying to find the strength just to hold her and remember how lucky I was to have her.
I don't know what would have happened to our family without the help of my parents and friends. My parents were the ones who cared for Lily while I was in the hospital. Family and friends really wanted to see me get better and helped us all fight together. It was such an amazing lesson in friendship and being humble towards others while also finding inner strength. I'll never forget nor can I ever thank them so much for what they did and the help they provided.
Although cancer is such a horrible life-changing event, it is important that we find the positives of every situation. This changed my life and helped shape who I am today as a person in more ways than one for the better, and I am thankful to be alive today for my family and to share my story.
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