Monday, 16 April 2012

Guest Post from Heather

Somewhere in America, a stranger stumbled across my blog, and has seen me as a channel - a means to share her story.  She contacted me via email, to share with me her story of survival and hope.  Her situation and circumstance draws no apparent parallels to my life, she has fought battles I can not even fathom.  However her story is one that will touch you deeply - bring tears to your eyes - send a shiver down your spine.  It will also remind you of the reasons we hold on to hope, and that we should never take life for granted.

This "guest post" is a short blip from Heather, telling of her journey thus far.  At the end of the blog, I will post the link to her website where you can read further - and hopefully share it on to your loved ones, because its nice to hear of a happy ending once in a while...

Learning Not to Take Anything for Granted
Everyone fears the unexpected. However, it is a lot harder to expect it, especially three and a half months after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. I did not expect the worst. The worst came anyway in the form of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The diagnosis came on November 21, 2005. I was scared and looking my own mortality in the face. I was also realizing a toughness I never knew existed in me.
Soon after I was diagnosed, I got a referral for Dr. David Sugarbaker at the Boston Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Sugarbaker was honest. My disease has a grim prognosis. However, he still managed to give me hope. In my research, I learned that my chances of living more than five years from that time were only two percent. I knew I could be in that two percent. I needed determination and that was growing inside of me.
It was not easy to stay determined. My first step on the road to beating mesothelioma was a surgery. The surgery involved the removal of the tumor that was ruining my life and my entire left lung. Obviously, I could not take care of my baby at that time. Lily stayed with my parents about 2,000 miles away from me while I had surgery under the care of the wonderful doctors in Boston, Massachusetts.
Despite so much of me being taken out during surgery, it was necessary to undergo chemotherapy and radiation for the months following my surgery. I was involved with the care of my daughter. Nonetheless, I needed help. I was still very sick. I was lucky to have friends and family to help me all the way to the end of mymesothelioma treatment, which was around my daughter's first birthday.
The lessons I learned from battling cancer I am not sure I could have learned through anything less trying. I learned that taking anything for granted is a mistake. Cancer helped me realize that appreciating all the little things in life is the best way to live life to its fullest. Life is not about the things that upset you. It is about the things that make life worth living. My daughter’s laugh and smile is something I will never take for granted. I will cherish every moment of her life to which I am privy.
Among the most important of my discoveries since my cancer diagnosis is that the people fighting with me were warriors. I met sufferers and family members whose journeys continued with mine or sadly ended. Each of them will have a place in my heart forever. They are the reason that I am striving to improve mesothelioma awareness. One of the best ways to do this is for me just to keep on living and living life to the fullest. No matter how bad things get, I have every reason to be grateful that I am alive and able to experience everything -- the good and the bad.

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