Monday, March 25, 2013

Motherhood and Cancer: Meet Heather

Today I am pleased to share Heather's story with all of you. Heather is one of my blog readers and she asked if I could share her story with all of you. Heather, is not only strong and beautiful, she is definitely an inspiration to all of us.

Lessons from Cancer: New Motherhood and Cancer

Being a mother became a journey for me, and it held many more surprises than I ever could have guessed. Whenever people have talked to my daughter about her mommy's cancer, she always says in a matter-of-fact way, "I saved my mommy's life." It's unbelievable to most adults that a child can save an adult's life. Telling my story, I've shown people how it's possible for someone so small to have such an impact.

My husband Cameron and I waited until we were ready to have a baby. It took seven years but finally, I really wanted to do it. I felt like we were settled enough to make it work. It was an enjoyable pregnancy that often has some strange experiences. I didn't expect to have so many questions, and her delivery was an unexpected difficulty. She was a breech baby, which meant that I needed a C-section. Still, after all of that, holding her in my arms was the best experience of all. I felt utter joy and bliss to finally welcome her into this world face to face. She was bright-eyed and a complete dream to behold. That feeling I had from our meeting would soon be crushed.

I went to the doctor about three months after Lily was born. My husband was with me. I didn't know what to expect from the test results. I had been feeling off for the past months and lost a ton of weight. The doctor told me that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma and that I needed to have major surgery to remove one of my lungs in addition to parts of my chest lining, heart lining and diaphragm. I needed to see a specialist as well. Without treatment, he gave me 15 months to live. Imagine, I spent the last year of my life believing I had all this time with my baby girl and now I had only 15 months. It wasn't going to happen to me. We decided to see a mesothelioma specialist in Boston. It was far from Minnesota but it was worth it. He was going to save my life.

The next few months were spent in chaos for my family. I was in surgery in February, and then spent 18 days in the hospital. After another 2 months of recovery I began chemotherapy and radiation. During this time, it was incredibly difficult to take care of Lily. I had just carried this child, gave her everything and now I couldn't give her anything because I felt so weak. Still, I thought about her constantly and she became a source of happiness for me that could lift me out of the darkest spirits. Her laughter, smiles, eyes and innocence truly made me believe that things were going to get better.

It took a while but eventually, I was on my feet again and recovering. It wasn't an easy process. I definitely had my doubts, and things were difficult for Cameron as well. Thankfully, we had a much bigger family than we originally thought. Not only did my parents help with childcare, but also friends, family, co-workers and neighbors came together to provide in any way that they could. It was the most amazing feeling to be loved by so many and to feel that love was overwhelming at times. I can't thank those wonderful people enough for what they did.

Dealing with cancer was definitely the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It took a lot of strength and willpower to overcome everything, but through it all, I looked to the future and to being with Lily. She is the one thing that was constant throughout my recover and I see her presence as a gift that I couldn't have received at a better time. I had just known that it was the right time to have a baby. I'm so blessed to have a happy, healthy family today and I can't help but thank Lily for always thinking of me as her hero. It's been a whirlwind, but I can't wait for all the years to come with being a mother.

To read more about Heather's story please visit her blog here

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow. That is an incredible story. I can't imagine going through something like that... what an emotional rollercoaster. I am glad that she beats the odds!