Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mesothelioma: A Story of Survival

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know how much work I do t fundraise for Cancer Research. After I posted about Rock n Roll USA, I was contacted by Heather, an amazing Cancer Survivor. She asked me if I would share her story, and I was more than happy to do so! Below is her story, word for word, about her amazing battle with Mesothelioma. She also has a blog, that you can check out here.

My story of Survival: Getting Through Cancer All These Years  

My daughter has always been the guiding light for me. There were many times during my cancer that I looked to her for inspiration. Maybe that's why she tells people that she saved my life. It's the truth. When I was at the lowest point in my battle against one of the deadliest cancers, my daughter Lily was barely aware of her surroundings. She was just a baby, and yet she changed my life and made it possible to look forward and past the difficult experiences.  

Seven years ago, I was finally ready to have a child. My husband Cameron and I waited a while after getting married. There wasn't any rush, but suddenly, it was all I wanted to do. My pregnancy came quickly, surprisingly, and I was just as nervous and curious as many new mothers tend to be. I had a lot of questions about the way things were going to be, but I didn't ever really foresee what was actually going to happen to me.  

On my daughter's due date, something was wrong. She was a breech baby. They couldn't deliver her the normal way, and I had to have an emergency C-section. It was terrifying, but eventually, she was in my arms. It was the most beautiful moment to have her so close to me finally after all those months carrying her. Cameron was such an ecstatic new father, and together, I knew that we were going to make this child's life incredibly promising.  

However, after I gave birth, it seemed more things were going for me. My health deteriorated to the point that I was so exhausted and losing so much weight that something had to be wrong. Three months of testing later, I found out that I had mesothelioma. I didn't know how I had gotten such a deadly cancer, but it turned out that I had unknowingly exposed as a child. In any case, the doctor gave me 15 months to live without treatment. It was a shock on top of a death sentence. I sat in utter shock. It was such a blessing to have Cameron with me. Without him, I would not have had the strength to make it through that meeting nor find a specialist to heal my body.  
My cancer was so specific, malignant pleural mesothelioma, that I needed to see someone with experience. We chose mesothelioma specialist from Boston. His program had saved many suffering from the very same illness, and I knew that he would help me. However, first I had to get the cancer out of my body. That was going to take a major surgery, which removed an entire lung, parts of my chest, heart lining and diaphragm. It was a very risky surgery, but through it all, I knew that I was going to do what I had to do to be there for Lily and Cameron. I saw my daughter growing up without me, and I knew that I had more time left with her. I just had to make it through. 

I spent 18 days recovering from surgery in the hospital, and after another 2 months of recovery I began chemotherapy and radiation. These were the toughest months. Some days, I felt so sick that the only thought I could keep in my head was of Lily's face when I held her for the first time. That was how Lily was able to save my life even if she wasn't near me. I knew that she was growing and that I couldn't be there for her because I was sick, but eventually, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be there for her for many more years.  
Much of the cancer treatments took its toll on my family. I was staying with my parents who were helping with Lily while Cameron continued working full time. He remained my rock through it all. I can't thank him enough for never questioning and always being there. There were many other people who also came to our aid during these difficult moments. I am so appreciative of all the friends and family who really came together in support of my survival.  
 Mesothelioma is one of the deadliest cancers. It kills 95 percent of people who have it. I was one of the lucky ones who survived and to that I can just say that it truly was my daughter who was pushing me the entire time, making sure that I never gave up. I'm cancer free seven years later and I have a beautiful family.