I don't know what it is about spring, but I always feel like I am suddenly running a marathon once we hit April. We are pulled 50 different directions as all our school, sports, and other programs are closing for the year. We are slammed with award ceremonies, fairs and closing programs. I get home at the end of the day and just want to crawl into bed and stay there until everything is all over.
As much as I may feel like doing that, I keep getting up each morning and facing the day ready (almost) for more.
Today I am honored to introduce you to an inspiring mother. She makes getting up and facing each day a work of art! Heather is a cancer survivor and has agreed to share her story with us here at A TIPical Day.
My Journey to the Other Side: Surviving Cancer
If you ask my daughter about my experience with cancer, she will tell you that she saved my life. Lily is only seven years old, but she knows this fact as well as she knows her age or how she is feeling. Although people are incredulous when they hear her say it, Lily truly saved my life.
I was 35 years old when my husband and I decided to have children. Cameron and I were married for seven years before we started trying to have a child. Within three months and three pregnancy tests later, we found out that we were pregnant. While we were extremely happy, I worried about health complications because of my age. Thankfully, the pregnancy went smoothly. At the birth, Lily was breech so the doctors performed an emergency C-section. Moments later, they placed my beautiful baby girl in my arms. When I first held her, I fell instantly in love. All I could think of was how I could love, protect and care for her.
The joy of giving birth was followed by three and a half months of bliss. Suddenly, our little family’s happiness took a turn for the worse. My doctor told me that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. This devastating cancer kills 95 percent of the people who are diagnosed with it. In my case, I had 15 months to live if it remained untreated. Thinking about my little girl, Cameron told the doctor we would do the most aggressive form of treatment possible.
We went to one of the leading specialists for mesothelioma in the world, Dr. David Sugarbaker, in Boston. They surgically removed my left lung, as well as the lining of my heart and my diaphragm. After the surgery, I spent 18 days at the hospital and two weeks at an outpatient facility recuperating. While all this was happening, I did not get to see my daughter for a month since she was at my parents in South Dakota. As soon as I was released from the outpatient facility, I went to South Dakota to finish recovering for two months. Afterward, Cameron, my daughter and I returned to Minnesota so I could start chemotherapy and radiation.
As I faced my own mortality, all I could think of was my daughter. If I could not beat cancer, she would grow up without a mother and I would never see her first day of kindergarten or high school. I found the will to live and to fight cancer because I needed to be there for Lily. My daughter was less than a year old, but she saved my life.
Heather and Lily
You can learn more about Heather and her journey at www.mesothelioma.com/blog/
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