Monday, February 4, 2013

36 years.

i was honored to be contacted by heather a few days ago. she has an incredible story that i want to share. since my mom is a cancer survivor i thought this would be an awesome opportunity to help out a fellow survivor. enjoy!! xoxo

My 36th Year - A Journey Through Motherhood and Mesothelioma

My 36th year was life changing, both in the best and worst ways possible. On August 4, 2005, my husband and I welcomed our daughter Lily into the world. Nothing better has ever happened to me than the arrival of my gorgeous little girl. It was only a short time later that the worst happened.

I went back to work when Lily was one month old. I knew right away that I wasn't healthy, and it wasn't just recovering from pregnancy. I started having no energy whatsoever, and then I began losing five to seven pounds a week. I tried to explain it away, but I knew deep down I couldn't.

My doctor put me through dozens of tests and finally, just 3 ½ months after Lily's birth, I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. This is a cancer in the lining of the lung that is caused by asbestos exposure, which I had unknowingly been exposed to as a child. The doctor gave me a short 15 months to live if I didn't pursue treatment.

I was devastated. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving my daughter behind when I had only just met her. I fiercely wanted to be there by my husband as we experienced every moment of her life. We both knew, however, that we needed to choose the treatment that was going to give me the best chance of survival, no matter how drastic it may be or how far it may take me away from home. Once my doctor offered us 3 choices, good, better, and best, with little hesitation we decided to take the most daring route. We flew from Minnesota to Boston where n February 2nd, 2006, underwent an extrapleural pneumonectomy, the most drastic treatment available, which removed my entire left lung and all of the surrounding tissue. After 18 days in the hospital, and a couple more weeks after that at an outpatient home, I was finally able to go see my baby girl again who was now living with my parents in South Dakota where I grew up. My parent had become Lily’s full time caretakers while I was in Boston. Our family could not have gotten through this without the help of the gracious community surrounding my parents and offering to help with anything they needed while caring for Lily. I recovered for a while longer, and then eventually returned home and started chemotherapy and then radiation. All the while, I tried to be the mother Lily needed and soak in these precious first months with her. My husband and I were determined that I was going to be the victor in this situation.

Because we knew we were supported, we never lost hope, to which I attribute my great recovery. My 36th year taught me so much about joy and suffering, how fragile and beautiful life is, and how I need to live every moment to the fullest, grateful for how blessed I am.

I share my story to be a source of hope through others who may find themselves in a similar situation. I never imagined that I would have a baby and then soon be whisked off miles and miles away from her to fight for my life, but it happened and we got through it as a family. My cancer was bad, but from it came a lot of good and that is the message that I want everyone to take away from this story. Always try to see the good in bad situations.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful story of survival! Thanks for sharing love :)