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Friday, February 24, 2012

Guest post: Meet Heather!

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Heather! She has graciously written a guest post for me, so I will let her tell you her story. =)
~ Katrina

My Mesothelioma Journey (By: Heather)

My friends have always liked to tease me that the song "A Cockeyed Optimist"
from the musical South Pacific was written about me. The song refers to a girl
who always a look on the bright side of things, and that is definitely how I have
lived my life. However, I never thought my optimism would have to face such a
large challenge. The year I turned 36 was one of the best years of my life, since
that was the year I gave birth to my beautiful baby. When my sweet baby was
only 3 1/2 months old, I found out that I had a serious form of cancer.

Before November 21, 2005, I had never heard of malignant pleural
mesothelioma, but that was the diagnosis I received. I can still remember the
feeling of shock that consumed my body, because I never thought that I would
hear those words. As the doctor gave me my mesothelioma treatment options, I
realized that I was in for a fight. I also realized that only I could determine my
attitude during this battle. Instead of moping around in self-pity, I decided to
count my blessings. I was ready to fight for my life, both for myself and for my
adorable daughter.

I received a referral to the world's top specialist in diseases like mine. The doctor
scheduled my lung-removal surgery for Groundhog's Day in 2006, so I decided
to name my tumor Punxsutawney Phil. From that point on, Groundhog's Day was
known as Lungleavin Day, since that was the date of my lung removal. Each
year, I still celebrate Lungleavin Day with my family and friends. On this day, I
reflect on my cancer journey, and delight in the lessons I have learned through
this battle.

Cancer is not easy, but it has taught me so many valuable lessons. It is both the
best and the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Even on my hardest
days, I tried to find things to laugh and smile about. Laughing took a lot of the
fear of my disease away from me. I believe that my optimistic attitude was one of
the things that helped me overcome the disease, and I am determined to share
that optimism with others.

I would not trade my mesothelioma journey for anything, because I have met
some of the strongest people in the world due to my disease. We are able to
work together to advocate for mesothelioma. We share a common goal, and are
determined to support each other through each part of our journey. Even though
I am now a cancer survivor, I am still working to share hope and love to others
who are suffering from mesothelioma.

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