Imagine, you are a healthy 36 year old woman and have just given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Three months later, you are told you only have 15 months to live. You have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. All thoughts of raising your beautiful baby and watching her grow slowly fade in your mind as you wonder how she will live without you in her life. And your husband, he will be left to raise your daughter and try his best to keep your memory alive in her as she grows, as well as growing old without you by his side. How could life be so unfair? And even more, how did this happen?
Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer (which I didn't really know before reading up on it). It occurs in the thin membrane that surrounds the body's internal organs and cavities. If you have swallowed asbestos, you can develop peritoneal mesothelioma which forms in the abdomen. And oddly enough, you don't have to have direct contact with the asbestos itself. You can develop it from secondhand exposure, much like cigarette smoke can lead to secondhand lung cancer. All you have to do is come in contact with something like an asbestos covered garmet, like her father's jacket in Heather's case, and develop it. Just think, something as simple as putting on your daddy's work coat could result in something so catastrophic.
Dangers of Asbestos Infographic
Image courtesy of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
Though the diagnosis itself was quite scary, Heather and her family knew they needed to find the best support they could to ensure their lives could be spent together and she could see her daughter grow up. She turned to Dr. David Sugarbaker , a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women's Hospital. Heather endured a new procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy. Now, Heather is an 8 year survivor and is on a mission to let everyone know the dangers of mesothelioma as well as sharing her story of faith and hope to all who will listen. I am very glad she came to me to share her story, as I know feel more educated on the subject than ever.