Winning Against Mesothelioma
My world just seemed to crumble on November 21, 2005. I had three and a half month old child, my only child, and I had just been diagnosed with cancer. It was malignant pleural mesothelioma, a very deadly type of cancer. At this time I realized that I was going to have to face one of my biggest fears, facing a deadly illness, and that I was going to have to be stronger than I ever realized possible.
I was referred to Dr. David Sugarbaker, the world's leading mesothelioma doctor, at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. He helped me to have hope and boost my confidence. He helped me to believe that I would beat this cancer and live to see my daughter grow up. With a survival rate of only 2% after five years, it was very discouraging, but I was determined to be a part of that small percentage of mesothelioma patients who lived. I would win this fight against cancer. I spent the next year using every bit of energy I had to fight this disease. I had to travel to Boston, about 1900 miles away from my daughter, now six months old, who was staying with my parents while I fought this cancer. I had surgery that removed my left lung and all of the lining around it where the tumor was. After surgery, I spent months undergoing treatment for mesothelioma which included chemo therapy and radiation, but I continued to raise my daughter. I spent the first year of her life battling cancer, but she knew nothing of it. We had a huge celebration for her first birthday. Friends and family traveled from all over to not only celebrate Lily's birthday, but also to celebrate the fact that I was winning my fight against cancer. It was only one month short of a year after being diagnosed that I finished my last treatment. I promised myself I would never have cancer again.
I learned many things through that year of fighting against cancer and the years that followed. Now I do not take things for granted. My cancer made me look at everything differently. Now I appreciate the little things in life much more. My daughter's laughter, a puppy's breath, a rainbow after the rain are all reminders to me of how precious life is and that I need to LIVE.
There are so many amazing people that I've met along this journey; people who will forever remain in my heart. It is the people who tried with all their might and still lost their battles, the people who support and care for their loved ones while they are fighting cancer and those who have won their battles who continue to inspire me with their determination. I want to raise awareness of mesothelioma on their behalf. Mesothelioma is a real disease that affects real people.
I'm living my life as best as I can, being grateful for everything. Even when I have bad days I remain thankful. In my eyes, this is what life is about.