Cancer Miracle and the Village

One of the best things about having a blog and using social media has been connecting with others that I otherwise would never meet. It makes the world a smaller place and connects your story with others and I’m thankful how God can use that in each of our lives in unique ways.

Recently a woman named Heather found my blog and shared her story with me. It’s definitely a “lemonade story” and one I think you’ll be encouraged to read. Here’s a small part of her story. If you want to read more about her journey with cancer and miraculous recovery visit her blog.

I’m sure that you are familiar with the ancient adage: “It takes a village.” I’ve heard the saying tossed around idly in conversations, but it is a saying that has come to have profound meaning in my life.

My daughter was born on August 4th, 2005 after a mostly uneventful pregnancy. The pregnancy was without any complications. I experienced no morning, afternoon or evening sickness. Up until the delivery date, when we found out that there was a possibility of a breech birth, we had no worries. My C-section went flawlessly. My village surrounded me: my family, my husband’s family, close friends all gathered together in the days after the birth, eager to behold the new addition to the family.

Lily’s arrival, as with the arrival of any new addition to the family, caused a significant shift in my focus. Before my daughter’s birth, I was part owner of a large, successful salon. I managed one of the three salons, I had over 20 employees, and I worked behind the chair myself. After being at home with Lily a couple of weeks, I found out that I was changing salons and would be helping to take over the management functions at another location. Although the workload was lighter, I was still not thrilled about the move. Furthermore, I didn’t fancy the idea of being away from my little angel.

Within a month of returning to work and getting back acquainted with the frenzied pace work life, things took a turn for the worse and started to go downhill. I started feeling unusually tired and winded. Tasks that I would perform with no problem, all of a sudden, left me physically drained. Initially, I attributed these symptoms to my new workload, juggling the obligations of my home and my career. These symptoms, coupled with drastic weight loss of about five to seven pounds per week, caused me to entertain the possibility of something more insidious than merely a hectic schedule.

I visited my doctor in November to get a professional diagnosis of these unsettling occurrences. After a series of tests, a chest x-ray and some blood work, fluid buildup was found around my left lung. This finding led to more in-depth testing. Further testing revealed a malignant pleural mesothelioma–a cancer in the lining of the lung, caused primarily by asbestos exposure as a child. Being that the prognosis for this form of cancer is doomful, I decided to take most drastic option offered– Extrapleural Pneumenectomy: a surgery that removed my left lung, all the surrounding tissue, lymph nodes, diaphragm on the left side, the lining of my heart and one of my ribs. I also had a heated chemotherapy wash to further eradicate any cancer. Two and a half months after my surgery, I began chemotherapy and radiation.

During those early months of my baby’s life, I began to see the blessing of the “village.” My parents in their South Dakota home cared for Lily while I was fighting cancer in Boston. People I had babyay when they were young offered their support assist my mom and dad who were juggling their jobs and “parenting” their brand new granddaughter. The “village” loved me from afar by feeding my baby and loving her while I was in distant Boston struggling for my life. My only glimpses of how she was growing and changing were grainy pictures e-mailed from my mom to us while we were at the hospital. Missing my daughter was heart wrenching. But I knew that she was in the best hands possible.

I am now 5 years cancer free. My little girl and I are finally both together and healthy after a period of time that was truly trying and terrifying. . I could not have navigated this arduous journey if I didn’t have such a strong support system. Thanks to family and friends who have played an instrumental role in encouraging me in my time of need. These people are my village.

Thanks be to God for Heather’s story, for her sharing it with me (us) and that so many of you have also been a “village” to my family over the years. We all need that, cancer or not.

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