Mesothelioma Mom

Today I am attending my very first BlogHer sessions!  Actually, today is Pathfinders Day, where you can choose a “path” to learn about in morning sessions and afternoon discussions.

The “path” that I chose was how to use my blog as an agent of change.  Some of you know that I want to do MORE with Sluiter Nation.  I want this to be how our children know their family once that family is gone.  Cort’s dad died the year we were married, so our kids won’t ever have met him here on Earth.  We try to support cancer awareness and research efforts, but I want to do MORE.

Today I am hoping to learn about how to do that through my blog.

While I am busy scribbling notes and asking questions and eating saltines to keep my tummy under control, I am pleased to have Heather Von St James here to share her powerfully miraculous story of struggle and success.

Please giver her your love.

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A new baby brings with it so many changes. The first few months are crazy, filled with no sleep, adorable little clothes, and late night feedings. Unlike most new moms I was diagnosed with a mesothelioma prognosis 3 ½ months into raising my daughter. Yeah, not exactly what most people go through when a new baby comes into their life, but it happened to me and I had no other choice but to fight.

Lily was born on August 4th, 2005. Our whole family welcomed her especially because she was first and only grandchild on my side of the family. Although she was not the first grandchild, or even the 10th on my husband Cameron’s side of the family they were all beyond excited to welcome her into our lives. It didn’t take long before we got into a little bit of a routine. I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to work, but because of the line of work I was in, I had to get back part time when she was only 4 weeks old. I was part owner in a large salon company and had a full book of clients to get back to.

During the month of September I noticed how tired I was. I pushed it off as just having a baby, via c-section, no less, since she was a frank breach… No wonder why I was tired! In October in went back almost full time, 36 hours a week to be exact. Yet, my fatigue issues seemed to persist. I had healed well from the c-section, and just chalked it up once again as having a new baby was exhausting.

In addition to my fatigue, I was losing weight, and I mean a lot if weight. I had only gained 5 lbs during the pregnancy, which was odd to begin with. I had always been a full-bodied woman. I was 5’10” and 225 pounds when I got pregnant. My husband and I believed the weight loss was due to a healthier diet and taking better care of myself. We had devised an ulterior answer to everything, or so we thought.

However, after the pregnancy the weight literally melted off. On average I was losing around 5- 7 lbs a week. I had heard that breast-feeding helps you lose weight, and thought that must be the reason. As October went on, I continued to lose weight, felt lethargic, and then the fever started. Everyday, at the same time I would get a low-grade fever. Finally, after one scary incident of waking up to get ready for work, getting Lily up, feeding her, putting her in her swing I sat on the couch, barely able to lift my arms. I couldn’t catch my breath; it felt like a truck had raked on my chest. I sat back on the couch and fell asleep. I woke up 2 hours later. Little Lily just looked at me from her swing, cooing and gurgling like the happy baby she was.

This scared me! I was scared enough to call my doctor and begin to find out what was wrong with me. I called in sick to work that day and went to see my doctor. His initial thought was that I had a heart virus. Due to the fact that I was breast-feeding he was reluctant to give me antibiotics. He told me to take some time off of work, and come back next week if I didn’t get better and he would do some tests. I was back a week later, feeling just as bad. He ordered some blood tests and when they showed some abnormalities he sent me for a chest x-ray. It was then that we knew we were up against more than postpartum symptoms.

I was a new mother with a terminal cancer. I beat the odds. I may have missed part my baby girls childhood, but I am able to celebrate her 6th birthday on August 4. Her birth was what got me through the most difficult time in my life. She is the reason I am a proud and healthy mesothelioma mom.

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Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing your story!

To read more about Heather and how she got mesothelioma and being a mesothelioma mom, you can click here.

you can also follow her on twitter.

Write Away Cancer

I am bummed out.

Yesterday was a Relay for Life event that my school district helps coordinate and run.

I wanted to go.

They had fundraisers all week.  I paid $10 to wear jeans this week to show my support.

We “bought” a luminary for $10 to decorate in memory of Cort’s dad.

Eddie colored, Cort chose pics of his dad, and I assembled

We planned to go to the opening ceremony last night at 6pm and do a lap, find our luminary, take some pictures, and show our support.

But then we didn’t.

Work ran late, dinner ran late, and by the time we could have gotten packed up and driven the 40 minutes back to my school?  It would have been bedtime for Eddie.

And it ended up raining cats and dogs.

But I can’t just shrug my shoulders and say, “oh well, maybe next year.”

This is important to me.  To us.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying and talking with Cortney about this space here.  This blog. I even mentioned in my entry into the Mom Central Grant Contest (which I did not win), that I wanted to use the grant to make Sluiter Nation more than just me. But I didn’t know what.

Do I want to advocate for PPD and other perinatal mood disorders?  Absolutely.

Do I want to rally around mothers of perinatal loss?  Most definitely.

Do I want to contribute to finding cures for diseases and conditions that have affected our loved ones like stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, Juvenile Diabetes, among others?  YES!

But what kept coming back over and over in my mind and heart?  I want to teach Eddie about his Papa Steve.

all he has are pictures of his Papa

I’ve written about Cort’s dad’s cancer and his death and my experience with being an outsider with it all.  Some of the posts have been here, some on my other blog, Exploded Moments.

Cancer is such a big evil.

It not only takes away loved ones, but it tortures them and their loved ones in the process.

It forces us to watch a deterioration of a person so vibrant and larger than life.  We watch as he becomes smaller and smaller until he is blinked out.

We watch and think about what he will miss.

He will miss all his grandchildren.

He will miss his daughter’s wedding.  And then his son’s.

He will miss college graduations.

He will miss our lives and will will painfully miss his.

Cancer is more than just a sucky disease.

It took Eddie’s paternal Grandpa.  His Papa.  The reason we are Sluiter Nation.

I am afraid Eddie won’t know his Papa because he is not here.

I can’t let that happen.

Cort and I want to teach him about his Papa and about what took him away.  We want to make cancer awareness and fundraising a part of Sluiter Nation.

But all I have are my words.

I don’t know how to do anything but write.

But I want to learn how to make my words bigger than just me.

I want to learn how to make this space something other than me rambling.

I will never, ever stop telling my PPD stories or my miscarriage stories because I know they help people.  I will tell those stories here, there, and everywhere.  I will advocate for those things until I am blue in the face.

But I also need to write about cancer.

I need to not let Papa Steve out of our life.

I need to write away cancer.

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