Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I would like to introduce you to someone I recently met. Her name is Heather and she has a very inspiring story to tell. I know this will be an inspiration to all who read it....

Hope Amidst the Darkness

There are some phrases in life that we never want to hear. I will never be able to forget the day that I heard three words that changed my life completely: "You have cancer."

Unfortunately, my diagnosis came during one of the happiest times of my life. Not even four months earlier, I had given birth to a perfect baby girl, Lily. It was love at first sight when I saw my daughter. Now, instead of enjoying being the mom of an infant, I was suddenly a cancer patient.

I received the diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma, a serious cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. When I told people my diagnosis, they would always remark that they thought asbestos was illegal. It is true that asbestos is illegal now, but it has not always been that way.

I became ill with mesothelioma cancer as a result of secondary asbestos exposure many years prior. When I was younger, my dad worked in the construction industry. He spent his days completing various projects, and he specialized in working with drywall.

My dad would never have knowingly hurt his family, but he came home every day covered in dust from his work. None of us could have guessed that the dust contained harmful asbestos. As I hugged my dad and went about my daily life in my home, I was breathing in these deadly asbestos fibers. Many years later, that exposure resulted in mesothelioma.

The typical mesothelioma patients of the past were older males who worked in construction, mining or other trades. I definitely did not fit that profile as a 36-year-old female. At the time of my diagnosis, the Mayo Clinic said they had only had one other mesothelioma patient that was as young as me. However, the profile of the typical mesothelioma patient is changing.

More and more wives of husbands who worked in trades fields are getting sick from secondary asbestos exposure. These were the women who were washing their husbands clothes every evening, cleaning dust from their furniture and completing numerous other tasks around their homes. Because of this, they received a high level of exposure from the asbestos dust. In addition, the children in these homes were being exposed to the toxins every day.

As I travel advocating for mesothelioma, I am meeting other patients who are young like me. Most of us were in the prime of our lives when we were shocked by a cancer diagnosis. We have all received some of the worst news that a person can hear, but I am proud to say that we are very strong.

I love talking to other patients because it gives me an opportunity to spread my message of hope. A mesothelioma diagnosis is scary, but it does not have to be a death sentence. I have so many wonderful new relationships thanks to my cancer journey, and I will never forget the lessons that I learned during the hardest time of my life.

This is a picture of the happy family as they are today....