A Story of Motherhood and Survival – A mother talks about her fight and how her baby helped her..

March 31st, 2013 by Heather

Talking to my seven-year-old daughter about my cancer often gets people to laugh. She claims that she is the hero saying, “I saved my mommy’s life.” It couldn’t be more true. However, people just don’t believe it, but how could they? It’s not every day that a child saves an adult’s life. There’s a lot of truth to what she says because she was my bright spot when I had cancer. She was the thing that got me through, and that’s why people should believe that it’s possible for kids to help you through the roughest challenges.

My husband and I waited seven years to have a baby. We didn’t think about having kids until later because we wanted to be ready. I was finally ready to go for it. It was really strange to be pregnant but also a wonderful kind of strange. I got to eat some really silly things, and I had all kinds of questions about what I needed to do as a new mommy. I kept wondering what I was going to be like. I wanted to be a cool mom, but I eventually decided that I needed to just be a good mom to my little baby. The excitement in me was so unbelievable for this baby that when she finally arrived. I wasn’t expecting a difficult delivery.

Lily was a breech baby, so I had to have a C-section. It was so emotional but I got through it and held her in my arms for the first time. I knew then that I was going to be the best mom that I could possibly be for any baby. Just looking at her made me realize what I had been waiting to do all my life. At first, I couldn’t let go of her. She was so perfect. I felt immediately at peace with everything and just grateful. Pretty soon, things were going to take a new turn.

About three and a half months after her birth, I wasn’t feeling so hot. Every day I was exhausted, and I was losing tons of weight. We did some tests to see what was going on and three days before Thanksgiving, I was sitting in the doctor’s office with my husband Cameron to finally hear the results. It turned out that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was shocking, and then the next thing shocked me again. I only had 15 months to live without aggressive treatment. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even begin to understand how this was happening to me after I had just went through the best experience of my life and had planned to spend an eternity making Lily’s life absolutely wonderful. It was just a horrible feeling. Thankfully my husband was there and helped to figure out the treatment options. I needed to have major surgery. I was going to lose one of my lungs.

I went in for an extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery on February 2, 2006. It was a long procedure that removed one of my lungs, part of my heart lining, chest lining and parts of diaphragm. I was in the hospital for 18 days and after another 2 months of recovery I began chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I had to make sacrifices during this time. I couldn’t always be around my husband or Lily. She was the bright spot for me. She was what kept me going through the dark times where I didn’t want to think about what was going on inside of my body. I’ll never forget how hard it was and how badly I wanted to be there for her as a mother.

When I think back to that time, the moments of overwhelming anxiety and pain, I realize how lucky I am. Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that usually takes 95 percent of those diagnosed. Being a mother was the reason that I was able to keep going despite all the odds. My baby girl needed me for so many more years, and I wasn’t going to give up fighting. My husband Cameron was also there for me when the road was rough. He was the ultimate caregiver and a passionate husband who just never stopped being the rock that we needed to push through. My family and friends really helped throughout this time. People we didn’t even know offered a kind word and some sense of direction when it almost became too much to bear. I will never forget that kindness and thank all those who reached out to us. Still, my little girl was the thing that kept me pushing through the challenges. That was what helped me to be strong through all of the treatment. So when she tells people that she saved my life, I know exactly what shes talking about.