Friday, December 14, 2012

Meet Heather, A Very Special Holiday Guest Blogger

In this special season of thankfulness and giving, we often let ourselves get caught up in the stress of our to-do's instead of remembering the important reasons for the season. 

We all have many things for which to be thankful and I am pleased to introduce Heather to share her story of strength and survival. It is also a reminder to be grateful for things we often take for granted and that sometimes trials are often the life events that help to grow the most. 

Meet Heather....

No one thinks that he or she will hear the words “you have cancer.”  Hearing those words never crossed my mind, but when I did hear them, I was afraid beyond belief.  When I heard those words, it was supposed to be a harmonious time for me, for I had just had my baby.
In a short period of time, It went from one of the best times in my life to the worst. I found out I had a cancer with a direct link to asbestos exposure; I had pleural mesothelioma cancer.

This was so surprising because I always thought asbestos was banned, and I did not think that I had been exposed to it.  Many people, including me, could not fathom how I could have gotten cancer linked to asbestos exposure.  Finally, I figured it out.  I got asbestos from my father’s work clothes.  Since he worked in construction and handled materials with asbestos fibers, he would always come home covered in white dust.  Little did he or we know, that innocent white dust contained millions of asbestos fibers.

People who were 36 years old like me were not the typical mesothelioma patients.  We were not the ones who had worked as plumbers, electricians, mechanics, on shipyards, or in other types of trades.  We were not the wives who handled the asbestos filled clothes of the workers who worked in these types of trades.
Now, there is another generation of people being diagnosed with mesothelioma.  These are young people like me, people in their late 20’s and early 30’s.  Most of them were like me and loved to see their daddy when he came from work when they were younger.  They would jump into his arms, pretend they were him by putting on his work jacket to feed the rabbits, and just hang around him while he did house repairs while still being covered in his asbestos filled clothes.  Sadly, these people are just getting their lives started; they are just getting married, beginning new careers, and having babies.  Then mesothelioma makes these entire new experiences stop.  There is always good news, however.  Treatment options for mesothelioma are steadily improving, and more people of all ages are surviving this dreadful disease.

Hearing a physician say that you have cancer is devastating to hear, but many people, including me, continue to hold onto all hope.  We are able to fellowship with one another as a community.  We support one another, and we celebrate all the victories together.
Many people have asked me why do I continue to share my story, and why do I continue to do what I do.  I tell them a simple answer.  I am bringing awareness to this disease, and I know with awareness, change will happen.  
I hope my story offers hope to someone and keeps someone from living in fear, and if it does either of these things, then I know I am doing the right thing.
Please show Heather some love! "Like" her Facebook fan page and keep up with her journey and advocacy efforts (she also happens to have some great Elf on the Shelf ideas featured that I may just steal!).

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