Starting this blog several months ago, my initial intention was to reach women and mothers and share stories. I wasn't sure who it would reach or when. I sent out my best intentions and just hoped to inspire another mom in the same position as I.
I have not written in quite a while. So imagine my surprise when I received a comment on my blog from a mother named Heather. She wrote me and asked if I could share her incredible story. At just 36, and a brand new mom, she was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma cancer. Fighting for her life with a brand new baby girl is a diagnosis that seems almost impossible for most.
I am happy to report that Heather is cancer-free, and that beautiful baby girl is growing up with her mom by her side. What an incredible story.
I share with you Heather's story so that you may become aware of not only her plight for her life, but so you are educated on this form of cancer and you, too, can spread the word. I am humbled to be able to share her story, and give light to not only her form of cancer...but her incredible journey and spirit that rose above all else.
We applaud you, Heather, for your light and your love that you obviously radiate to not just your family but everyone in your grasp.
My Mesothelioma Story: How I Hope to Help Others
Hearing these three words, “You have cancer” are the most numbing words when you think life is going well. Unfortunately, I heard these words at a time in my life when I thought nothing could possibly happen. Three and a half months prior to this announcement, I had a baby. Now, I am being told I have cancer. Pleural mesothelioma as a matter of fact. Pleural mesothelioma cancer is caused by asbestos exposure.
Most people ask, “Isn’t asbestos banned?” The answer to that question is, “No, asbestos is not banned.” The second question people ask me is, “Where were you exposed?” The answer to this question is, “My father.” I was exposed to asbestos through my father who worked in construction. He primarily sanded, taped drywall and was involved in mudding. The dust in these materials contained asbestos. He brought it home on his clothes, in his car and on his jacket. The white dust seemed harmless, but it was filled with asbestos fibers.
As for me, it was rare for a 36-year old female to be diagnosed with mesothelioma since the disease tends to affect older males who work in trades. Most often the trades include plumbing or heating. Military personnel, electricians and mechanics are also commonly affected by mesothelioma.
I am not the only woman affected by mesothelioma. The wives of the men who worked in these trades also began to get sick from doing their husband’s laundry. The asbestos-laden clothes were shaken before being loaded into the washer. Women were also exposed at schools while working as secretaries.
Unfortunately, the next generation of mesothelioma patients is being diagnosed. It seemed that I was the beginning of an alarming trend that young people who developed mesothelioma, but how were these young people exposed?
They were children. These children were happy to see their fathers and would jump into their arms after the father had been working all day with asbestos. These children would hug their dads to welcome them home after their dads were exposed. These children hung out with their dads after working around asbestos-laden insulation all day. These children wore their dad’s jacket to feed the rabbits to avoid getting their jacket dirty and were exposed.
The more people I meet in the mesothelioma community, the more I realize that this disease affects young people in their late twenties and early thirties. Young men and women should be starting their lives with new babies; marriages and jobs are, instead, dealing with mesothelioma. The great news is that these young people are more likely to survive, now, with new treatments for mesothelioma.
Why do I continue to do be an advocate for mesothelioma and share my story? I do it to create awareness. Without creating awareness, nothing will change. I share my story so that a person who is newly diagnosed will have hope of survival. I hope to give someone living in fear of mesothelioma a reason to continue living and save a life through my stories. I hope that by doing this that I am doing what is right.
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