The bond of a mother and her daughter
Every person finds that they have to lean on their loved ones from time to time. No
one knows when these times will come, but they eventually visit us all. I personally
experienced this when I was 36 years old and my entire life was thrown into turmoil.
It started on a much happier note though. My daughter Lily was born on August 4th,
2005 and my family came to see its newest addition. Everyone was so in love with
Lily. My husband and I were truly on cloud 9 in those first few months of her life.
However, things were about to change.
Once I returned to full time work I started noticing some troubling signs. I was losing
approximately 5 to 7 pounds per week and had very little energy. These are all
things that often accompany new mothers, but I still felt the need to see my doctor
about this. After many tests, we found out what the real problem was. It turns out
that the symptoms I was experiencing were not just those of being a new mother. If
only it could have been that easy..
On November 21st, 2005 I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a
type of cancer that is found in the lining of the lungs, caused most of the time by
asbestos exposure. Without my knowledge I had been exposed to asbestos as a
child some 30 years prior and my symptoms were just now showing up. It is typical
for mesothelioma symptoms to take up to 50 years to show up.
Obviously, I was first concerned for the well being of my baby and was told that I
would only have 15 months to live if I did not opt for treatment. I knew I had to do
whatever I could to try to save my life and be there to watch my little girl grow up.
I opted for the most severe form of treatment. My husband and I flew out to Boston
and on February 2nd, 2006, I received a treatment known as extrapleural
pneumonectomy that involved the removal of my entire left lung. I spent 18 days in
the hospital recovering and another two months on top of that before I began
chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I did all this while still trying to be the best
mother that I could be to my sweet Lily.
My parents went from being grandparents overnight to being fulltime caregivers to
Lily. People from all around that area came out to help them take care of her. People
we had known from my childhood were coming to support my parents. I met others
in Boston who offered their love and support to help get me through the day. I could
not be more thankful to the people who helped my parents, and also to the people
who helped me through all of this. I will never be able to truly express my gratitude to
In South Dakota, my daughter was learning how to do all sorts of new things without
me by her side. She was learning how to roll over, taking her first bites of solid food,
and more. I learned of these things only through the black and white photos that my
mom emailed to me. It was so hard to be away from Lily during all of this. I hated not
being there for so many of her firsts, but I knew she was the reason I was fighting so
hard to survive.
The bond of a mother and her child cannot be broken despite time and distance.
As a family we appreciate every moment that we have together, and we know how
fragile and precious it is.
My advice to everyone out there is to enjoy every minute of their life. Cancer is an
interesting thing. With the bad of it comes the good. Even though my diagnosis was
so dire, I was still able to find a lot of good out of it, and I am very thankful for that. I
hope that everyone can learn to look at even the worst situations in their life and see
some good in them.
Thank-you to Heather for sharing her story on my blog! I love reading and hearing stories that end on good notes especially when the word cancer is involved. I have some scars from loosing my mom to Cancer, feel free to read my story here. Also, be sure to go check out more of Heather's story on her website: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather/