24 Apr 2013

Guest Post: Life-Saving Motivation to Conquer Cancer

Life-Saving Motivation to Conquer Cancer by Heather keepcalmandwrite

My 7-year-old daughter has a great perspective. She understands the significance of her role in my cancer story, and if you ask, she will inform you that she saved my life. She doesn't have to think about the response at all. It's a matter of fact that she doesn't doubt one bit. While some people might not take her seriously or realize the significance, I can tell you that she is absolutely right in stating, "I saved my mommy's life."

We didn't rush into parenthood. Cameron and I were married for seven years before we decided we were ready to have kids. I was uncertain at that point because I was already 35 years old. It only took three months to get pregnant once we decided that the time was right, and we were thrilled with the news. The emotions were wonderful, though I was definitely nervous about being a new mom. I was ready in spite of the emotions, taking on my mommy role right away. It was a thrill to rub my belly and
realize that our baby was developing right there. I knew that I wanted to be the best mother possible, and I faced a thousand questions about how I would handle the job.

The pregnancy went smoothly, and I would have repeated the process many times more if I could have. Things got bumpy when Lily was breech, and the emergency C-section was a
challenge. At least she would have a round head. I am a definite optimist, and I found the sunny side of most situations in my journey toward parenthood. The joy of holding my baby girl
was overwhelming. I knew that there wasn't anything I wouldn't do to make sure that Lily had a wonderful childhood. I was ready to be her teacher, coach and friend, and I knew that this love
was unique, something I'd never experienced before. Nothing ever felt so perfect, and I was completely unprepared for the adversity just ahead of us.

Lily was only three and a half months old when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Without an immediate start to treatment, my doctor indicated that I would only have another 15 months of
life. What a shock it was to me. I'm so thankful that Cameron was right there with me. My mind raced to my daughter and how devastating it would be to leave her and my husband to carry on without me. Cam kept his cool and listened to the doctor as I descended into despair. He made the decision to pursue drastic treatments needed to give me the best chance at surviving the disease. This led us to Boston, and one of the best specialists in the world provided the beginning of my path to life. He removed my left lung along with the lining of my heart and diaphragm. It was definitely extreme, but it was necessary. My hospital stay lasted more than two weeks, and then I was moved to an outpatient facility in the area for another two weeks. This was followed by a two-month stay at my parent's house in South Dakota. We joined Lily there, and it was wonderful to see her again after the challenge of surgery.Screen Shot

We made some definite sacrifices to confront this disease, but it was necessary if I was going to be there for my husband and daughter in the future. I may have missed a month of my daughter's life, but the challenge doesn't begin to compare to the joy of being able to spend time with her today. My adorable daughter needed her mother to live, and we faced the unknown that accompanied surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to make that possible.

My journey has been tough, and the reality is that mesothelioma takes the lives of nearly 95 percept of patients diagnosed with the disease. My life as a mother was threatened, but the threat gave me strength to face the fight with determination. My daughter would need me for the long term, and it was this knowledge that kept me going on the roughest days. Lily is spot on when she tells others, "I saved my mommy's life."


BIO: I am 44 and a mother to a quirky little 7 year old, Lily. She is my only child, and my whole world. When Lily was just 3 1/2 months old, I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma; a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it. As I’m sure you can imagine, the first thing that came to mind when I was diagnosed was my baby girl and how I wasn’t going to be able to watch her grow up.

After intense treatment and recovery, I’m still here almost 7 years later and cancer free! My journey with cancer was a terrifying one and I'd like to turn my pain into purpose and become someone that other people can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like my own. You can find me here


  1. Oh Gosh , I couldn't think of anything after reading. Gave some minutes to me and now I can say that mums have great power. They can do anything for their kids even they fight against death. It's true. I really wanna salute to all mums. It's such a great post!

  2. Wow! This made me speechless. You have suck bravery to share your story with us, and I truly believe that your little girl saved your life for sure. The power of moms and their children. Thank you for sharing.


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