Today, I have a Guest Post by Heather which I would like all mothers to read. Heather is a courageous mother, wife and survivor of Mesothelioma Cancer. Do read her story. If you wish to know more about Mesothelioma, please visit The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog. Thank you, Heather for sharing your story with us.
Up until the day Lily was born, I ran one of 3 salons in a large salon company in which I was part owner. I had more than 20 employees and also worked at a station myself. I went back to work but was not really happy about leaving my little girl. A few weeks after returning to full time work, however, I started feeling short of breath, tired and with no energy...feelings that could be normal after giving birth. Then I started to lose a lot of weight--5 to 7 pounds a week. I thought that surely was not normal. I saw my doctor in November, told him my symptoms, and after a chest X-ray and blood work, they found the answer: I had fluid around my left lung. After more tests, biopsies and scans, I was told I had malignant pleural mesothelioma--a deadly lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The diagnosis came on November 21, 2005. As a child, I was exposed to asbestos, and now--30 years later--I had mesothelioma.
I was given 15 months to live if nothing was done, and my first thoughts were for my husband and baby. We knew then that we would do whatever we could to save my life. My parents kept Lily while we went to Boston. In February I had surgery to remove my left lung and surrounding tissue, lymph nodes, diaphragm, heart lining and one rib. Surgical Gore-Tex replaced my heart lining and diaphragm. After treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation, and nearly 3 months of recovery, I began to care for Lily again. I never did go back to work, since it would be too hard with just one lung.
The main thing to come from all of this is not our fear, nor any suffering, but the realization of the love and support from our "village." Our relatives, friends and even acquaintances rallied around us, held us up through it all, took care of Lily and surrounded us with strength until we could stand again. With the bad, comes good, and I am thankful for the good. We give back wherever we can, and are teaching Lily the same. The one constant that makes everything work for us is our Faith in God. Faith that I will live to raise our daughter, and it will all be okay.