Friday, February 15, 2013

Why I'm Thankful For My Cancer (a Daily Vacation guest post)

In my very first post back in August, I mentioned that the Daily Vacation mindset often helps me to have a "big picture" view of life.  Even while I am embracing the day, I try to live in way that acknowledges that there is still a lot more to my life than just what a I am experiencing in the moment.  Having these thoughts in mind keeps things in perspective and influences my day to day.  Having a "big picture" view is important during your normal routine, but it can become vital during times when tragic events unfold in your life.
Recently, another blogger, Heather, reached out to me to help share her story and what she has learned from the events in her own life.  I was very touched by not only what Heather has had to go through, but how she has taken something terrible and turned it into a blessing on her life.  I hope that her "big picture" mindset inspires and moves you the way it did me.

Why I'm Thankful For My Cancer

I'll never forget the day my daughter Lily was born. As I sat there holding my new child, willing to do whatever I could for her, I looked around at all of the family and friends around me and realized that they too would be willing to do whatever they could for me. It was as if they were holding me just like I was holding my child.  Little did I know at that time just how much I would need their help though.

It wasn't until I went back to work full time that I began to notice sudden changes in my body. I had started to lose 5-7 lbs a week and I constantly felt exhausted. I could have chalked up all of my symptoms to just being a new mom but I was worried enough that I felt the need to see a doctor. To my horror, the diagnosis came back as malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that resides in the lining of the lungs and is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos. Seeking the best mesothelioma doctor we could, my husband and I traveled to Boston where I underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy, a surgery that involved removing my left lung.

While I was in Boston though, Lily was taken to live with my parents back in South Dakota. Luckily, all that loving support I felt when Lily was born was still there to take care of her while I recovered from my ordeal, and my parents were able to rely on the support of people I had once helped many years ago. Children I had babysat as a teenager were now helping to raise my child as adults. People from my church stood up to help my parents while I made new friends who were going through the same thing as me in Boston. I can't say enough how crucial this tree of support was for getting me and my family through the worst of it.

There were difficulties, of course. I had to observe through grainy photos as my daughter learned to eat real food and move on her own. I didn't let my absence in Lily's life affect me in a negative way though, because I knew that all of these sacrifices were being made so that I could eventually come home and watch my daughter fully grow up.

Now that I'm back, my parents still have a deep connection with Lily from their time spent with her that will never disappear. That's the good and the bad of cancer: the connections I've made, and the loving care I've witnessed, are enough for me to be thankful for everything that has happened in my life.
To see more of Heather's story and for information on mesothelioma check out her blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment