a guest post from heather, a cancer patient + a mum

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Today, I would like to share with you a touching story about Heather, a mum + a cancer patient. I hope you find inspiration in her battle + her heart-warming tale of overcoming this dark moment in her life. May you also find the time of day to pray for her + the other people battling with cancers all around the world.

And so her story goes:

On November 21, 2005 I was a mother to a 3-½ month old girl. My life was changed when I became a cancer patient. After I was diagnosed, a lot went through my mind. I was especially worried about who would take care of my daughter, Lily. I come from a very supportive family and my parents offered to help. Even though they live 600 miles away, when we needed them, they did not hesitate to get in their car and come to our assistance. As a family, we sat down and decided what to do.

In the hospital in St. Paul, an x-ray detected that I had fluid surrounding my lung. The next step was to see a thoracic specialist. The specialist drained the fluid from my lung and isolated the cause of the fluid. I underwent a C.T scan that detected a mass located in the lower left part of one of my lungs. I was scheduled for a biopsy the next morning. The biopsy results concluded that I had a form of cancer called malignant pleural mesothelioma. We had to decide what to do.

There were a few treatment options available to us; we chose the most radical option. I had a consultation with Dr. David Sugarbaker, the world’s leading specialist on mesothelioma. If I wanted to live to raise my child, Boston was the only solution. I found out that I was a candidate for an Extrapleural Pneumonectomy. This is a groundbreaking and risky surgery that would be followed with inter-operative heated chemotherapy. Together we made the decision that Lily was going to live with my parents. She would move to their home in South Dakota and my husband Cameron and I would travel to Boston to find a lifesaving solution. A week before my surgery on February 2, 2006, my mom came to Minneapolis to help us get ready. When we were ready, my mom and Lily flew to my parent’s home. Cameron and I flew to Boston on the same day for the next phase of my journey.

The 7½-hour surgery started at 7:30 am on February 2nd. I stayed in the hospital for 18 days. My husband would check my e-mail to see if my mom sent any new pictures of my daughter. He would print black and white photos of Lily each day. I experienced my baby’s 6th month of life through a series of photographs. But it was seeing her that gave me the determination and energy to get through the day. I wanted to go home to Lily!

On March 2nd, exactly one month after my surgery, I left Boston. Because taking care of Lily was impossible for me to do alone, I spent two months living with my parents. Lily and I got reacquainted as I was recovering and growing stronger. She needed to remember that I was her mother. Battling cancer created a strong bond between Lily and my parents, one that I hope continues throughout her life. When I was healthy enough to take care of my daughter and myself, we returned to Twin Cities. At the beginning of May, my family was reunited. I was able to beat an unbeatable cancer. Now, I am simply called mom.

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