I admire people who look at a situation no matter how crappy it is and have a great attitude about it. Heather contacted me because she has been sharing her story of surviving mesothelioma. She has an amazing outlook on everything that happened to her. She was diagnosed when her child was just 3 and a half months old! Can you imagine? I can't. As parents we spend so much time protecting our children that it has hardly crossed my mind what it would be like if I was the one who didn't get to be there for all of their big life events. To deal with those emotions in such a positive way as Heather has is really inspiring.
Here is a word from Heather and a photo of her lovely family:
I've been called many things in this life, but a pessimist isn't one of them. People have always remarked how I could find the silver lining in anything. But when I was diagnosed with a aggressive cancer at just 36 years of age, and only three and a half months after giving birth to my first child, I don't think anyone would have blamed me for losing that optimism. But, I've always believed that life is about finding the reason for what happens in your life, and my cancer diagnosis was when my optimism served me best.
My diagnosis with malignant pleural mesothelioma came on November 21st, 2005. Like all the big events in life, this news came out of left field. Here I was, nurturing a new life, and I was being told that I likely didn't have much of my own left. It was then that I realized that even in this, there's always a choice. Either I lose myself in a storm of anger and grief, and curse the heavens for what was happening to me, or embrace life and turn that anger into passion to fuel me in the fight for my life with my new little girl.
As it turns out, cancer can be the ultimate blessing in disguise. It forces you to examine how you approach every day. For me, humor was the best way to disarm the fear threatening to swallow me whole. It was my key to taking life back on my terms, and how I stopped feeling like a victim. I vowed to use my diagnosis to help others diagnosed with mesothelioma by helping them put the hope back in their lives that I'd been given after being referred to one of the world's leading mesothelioma doctors. And every time I spread a little hope, it brought a little back into my life too.
When my lung surgery date turned out to be Groundhogs Day, 2006, we named the tumor that was to be removed Punxsutawney Phil. That little holiday in February, which we now know as Lungleavin Day, has become a meaningful celebration of life, and the power of hope over fear, for us. Without that cancer, I wouldn't have many of the most amazing people I've ever met in my life. Mesothelioma is much more than a daytime television ad to the thousands of people whose lives have been affected by the disease. We mesothelioma warriors out there are connected by shared experiences, even if we've never met. It's that fact, and a mission to keep all our glasses at least half full, that still give my life a purpose it never had before, and will continue to as long as there are people out there who need it.
If you have a moment, you should check out her blog! It's also a great website if you know of anyone who is struggling with cancer now.