Dealing With Mesothelioma While Raising Lily

Heather and her family

Heather and her family

By Heather, guest blogger

We have all experienced times when life seems to change dramatically. I experienced it when was 36. Experiencing all possible emotions, I felt extreme joy in extreme sadness within a short period of time. On August 4, 2005, Lily was born. Those who have had kids know the joy that comes with the birth of a child, and I cannot express the joy my husband and I felt. Unfortunately, that joy was soon to be dashed.

A month after the birth of Lily, I went back to work. However, something felt wrong; my energy was zapped and I was constantly tired. In addition, I was losing between five to seven pounds every week. This is obviously something thats normal for new moms, but my suspicion remained. Unfortunately, I was right-and something much worse was actually happening.

After enduring a battery of tests, I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma just 3 1/2 months after Lily arrived. Caused by unknown asbestos exposure when I was a child, this cancer affected the lining of my lungs. If I refused treatment, my doctor predicted that I would survive for 15 months.

All I could think about was my Lily. My husband and I decided, however, that we would do all we could to fight, even if it meant drastic treatment. We traveled to Boston, and on February 2nd 2006, I underwent an extrapleural pneumonectomy under one of the best mesothelioma doctors, Dr. David Sugarbaker. The procedure was intense, and they removed my entire left lung and all of the surrounding tissue. I endured an 18-day stay in the hospital after. Following my stay in the hospital, I recovered for another 2 months before starting radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Lily stayed with my parents in South Dakota while I was in Boston. My parents have a wide network of family and friends who were willing to help them during that time, and I will never be able to express my gratitude sufficiently. I missed out on many important moments in Lily’s life as she learned to eat solid foods and began moving around. Being away from Lily was difficult, but my faith in my parents gave me confidence while I fought to be there for her. I know that any mother would do the same thing for her child.

The cancer was the most difficult thing I have gone through, but some good did come of it. Without Lily, I may have given up along the way; I knew she needed me. We all appreciate life more now after seeing how fragile it can be. In even the worst situations, I strongly encourage those who are struggling to try to find the silver lining.

Read more from Heather at

3 thoughts on “Dealing With Mesothelioma While Raising Lily

  1. Reblogged this on Silver Lining and commented:

    I am reblogging this posting to remind everyone about the dangers of asbestos exposure and to refer you to the ACVRC. The ACVRC is a national campaign dedicated to protecting the rights of cancer victims and their families as well as raising awareness about this vicious disease.

    In an effort to better educate other parents on ways to keep their little ones safe from asbestos. (See recent blog: Asbestos exposure is preventable if the proper precautions are taken. We must work together to make the public more aware of the dangers

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