Today, we're taking a bread from regular scheduled posting to bring you a guest post from Heather. Heather is a cancer survivor. She contacted me about sharing her story. She does blogs on the Mesothelioma website. Her story touched me so much. Life is precious and we don't have to be a statistic!
Take it away, Heather!
On November 21, 2005, I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. My world seemed to be caving in as I digested the realization of this deadly form of cancer. My one and only baby was 3 1/2 months old. One of my greatest fears and a moment of my greatest strength stood together.
Being referred to the world's leading mesothelioma doctors, Dr. David Sugarbaker, at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s hospital, gave me hope that I could live to raise my daughter. The statistics of mesothelioma are grim, as a mere 2% live beyond 5 years, after their diagnosis. I vowed that I would be in that 2%! I was determined to beat this cancer.
Over the next year I battled my disease, having major surgery to remove my left lung and the whole lining around it where the tumor was. This took place in Boston, some 1900 miles away from my 6-month-old daughter, who was staying with my parents. The following months were spent enduring chemo and radiation, as well as rearing my daughter. I was ill her whole first year of life, but due to the help of devoted family and friends, she wouldn't have known.
When Lily's first birthday arrived, we celebrated big! Family and friends from all over came to celebrate Lily’s first year of life, and the end of my fight with cancer. Just one month shy of the anniversary of my diagnosis, I completed my radiation treatments and pledged to remain cancer free.
The year of my battle with cancer, as well as the years following, has taught me not to take anything for granted! Due to my struggle with cancer, I look at life differently, delighting in the small things, like my little girl's laughter, puppy breath and a rainbow after a rain shower. These things help remind me that life is meant to be lived.
I’ve met some of the most amazing people during my journey. Their names are carved on my heart forever. I remember those who fought and didn’t make it, those who care for their loved ones while they battle mesothelioma, and the many mesothelioma warriors out there who continue to amaze and inspire me with their tenacity and passion. It is for all of them that I want to raise awareness for mesothelioma. People should know it is much more than a daytime TV commercial. It is a real disease, affecting real people.
I continue to live my life to the fullest, enjoying every moment, savoring every morsel that comes my way. Even during the bad days, I find something to be grateful for. To me, that is truly what life is about.