Heather. Seven years ago, she was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a type of cancer
that kills 90-95% of those who have it.
After intense treatment and recovery, she is cancer free! She wants to
turn her terrifying journey with cancer into purpose and “become someone that
other people can look for guidance, inspiration, and hope” in situations like
hers. You can visit her blog here and know more of her story.
When you look back on your life, there are some moments that
always stand out. Some of these moments in my life are wonderful. On August 4,
2005, my husband and I welcomed our daughter, Lily, into the world. Her birth
filled us with joy and promise for the future.
However, not all of the moments in my life have been wonderful. When Lily was
just 3 ½ months old, I faced the toughest trial of my life when I found out
that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. Before I received my diagnosis, I
knew that something was wrong with me. When I returned to work after my
maternity leave, I had no energy. Even though I was eating normally, I was
losing weight at a rapid pace of about 5 to 7 pounds per week. Although I knew
that something was not right, I never would have guessed that I had cancer.
of cancer in the lining of the lungs that is caused by asbestos exposure. I
later found out that I had been inadvertently exposed to asbestos as a young
child. I was shocked to hear the doctor say that he only expected me to live 15
months without treatment.
I thought about my baby daughter, and I knew that giving up was not an option.
My husband and I decided that we would fight this disease as hard as we could.
In order to get the best treatment, we left our home in Minnesota so that a
specialist could oversee my treatment in Boston. On February 2, 2006, I had an extrapleural
pneumonectomy surgery. This major surgery removed my left lung along with
half of my diaphragm and portions of my heart and chest lining. After 18 days
in the hospital, followed by another 2 months of recovery I underwent
chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
more care than we could provide, so she temporarily went to live with my
parents at my childhood home in South Dakota. I missed many special moments in
my daughter’s life, but I was fighting so that she would not have to live
without her mother.
During my cancer fight, I learned so many valuable lessons. I have never
appreciated my family and friends so much, and I will never again take my life
or health for granted.