Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Family's Cancer Story: How I Survived ((Guest Post))

Today I have something pretty different for you! Instead of me ranting and raving, whining or complaining I have a guest post to share with you. I had a very sweet woman named Heather contact me and ask if I would be willing to have her do a guest post, I was a little skeptical at first, I mean who would want to post something here? Besides me, obviously. So I did a little research and was touched by her story, and am absolutely honored to feature her story. It's a great illustration about how a little life can have a big impact, and you know I'm all about respecting life! So, without further ado, Heather's story:

My Family's Cancer Story: How I Survived

My daughter loves to tell people a funny story. It's actually a very true story with some difficult beginnings, but we don't like to focus on the bad parts. She tells people that she saved mommy's life. Adults find that hard to consider. How can a baby really save an adult? Well, I'm here to tell you that it's totally possible, and I should know because it happened to me. 
My husband and I wanted to be together for awhile in our marriage before we took the plunge to have a baby. We wanted to make sure we were ready. I was 35 when we realized it was time. I got pregnant fairly quickly. I was suddenly in the midst of carrying life and having all sorts of questions. I didn't know what to expect for my new journey as a mother, but I couldn't imagine anything more exciting. I was ecstatic to go through this with such a loving partner. Cameron is an amazing husband, so I knew that he would be an amazing father. What kind of mother was I going to be? I figured that as long as I protected, nurtured and loved my kid unconditionally, I was doing something right. 
Everything was perfect for a while in the pregnancy, but on the day of Lily's arrival, something went wrong. The doctor told me that Lily was in breech position. I thought out loud, "At least she'll have a round head!" That got people to smile during a difficult moment. It was painful but I was holding Lily a few minutes later, and everything slipped into pure joy. I was so amazed by her. We were going to be the best parents that we could possibly be. There was no question about it. As I stared into her charming face, I wondered how anything could be better than this. 
A few months later, after I experienced extreme weight loss and fatigue, I found out that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was the type of thing that knocks you down a few pegs or even all the way below the last peg. I remember sitting in the office, having a breakdown as I was told that I only had 15 months to live. I needed treatment and quickly. My husband was there for me in a time that I couldn't be there for myself. Cameron told the doctor that I had to see a mesothelioma specialist in Boston. It was the only option that he had spoken about that made any sense because this specialist had saved so many lives in the same predicament as myself. 
My treatment started across the country. We were from Minnesota. I had never been to Boston. As I stood in the midst of this city, I realized how far away I was from Lily and what I was doing there. Of course, every mother makes sacrifices, but if I didn't survive this, I would be making a big sacrifice. I had to get through this treatment. The first part was surgery. The cancer needed to be removed from my body. Unfortunately, the surgery was extremely risky. They had to remove a lung and parts of my heart, chest and diaphragm. I didn't realize until now what could have gone wrong that day, and yet here I am. The surgery was successful. I spent a long time in recovery at the hospital and then an outpatient facility in Boston. I was going to spend much longer in chemotherapy and radiation, but not before spending time with Lily for the first time in months. 
Those were some incredibly wonderful days. I was able to be a mother again, despite going to one of the darkest places that you could go. I had no idea that I could ever get to the point where I was a strong mother once more. I didn't know if I was going to have the strength to do what needed to be done, and yet thoughts of Lily spurred me to energize and remember that I was going to be the best mother that I could be: cancer or not. I was able to beat mesothelioma with the memory of life inside of me and knowing that I had to be there for another 30 years for my baby girl. 
Today, I'm a happy, healthy mommy of a spunky seven-year-old who has her own tale to tell. It's not her fault she's a hero, and yet she loves being my hero. I love that too. Together we have a bond that we wouldn't have otherwise had. For that, I am most thankful.

You can read more about Heather, here  She is such a strong woman, you can see that plainly just by reading through some of her posts. Thank you for the honor of sharing your beautiful story, Heather!

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