Last week, I received a lovely e-mail that allowed me to look into someone’s life in a very personal way. I love getting to know people as individuals–hearing their life stories and what makes them each unique. Heather’s story is one of hope and joy. I invite you to take a few moments to learn more about her as I did.
Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma almost 10 years ago and given only 15 months to live. As soon as I read those words, my heart sank. It continued to sink as I found our common ground: Heather had just had a baby girl when she was diagnosed. That’s right around the time we were having our own baby girl. It hit me hard to think about what would have been going through my own mind if, at that time in my life, I’d received a diagnosis like this.
These are some UNKNOWN FACTS about Mesothelioma:
-It is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.
-Asbestos is banned in 60 countries, but not in the U.S. or Canada.
-Once a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, they are given on average about 10 months to live (Heather was given 15).
-Mesothelioma has a latency period of 25-50 years. This means it could be many years before symptoms of the disease appear.
You can learn more here.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is September 26th. Exposure to asbestos is the only confirmed cause of Mesothelioma. So, unlike many other cancers, this means Mesothelioma is preventable. With people like Heather who are willing to share their stories, the hope is to raise awareness of the day. Heather said she hopes to prevent this from happening to another family.
While I don’t know anyone who has personally dealt with Mesothelioma, every year around 3,000 people are diagnosed with it. That is so hard to hear! “From awareness grows hope. Each voice could save a life.”
This year marked 15 years since one of my brothers passed away. This year, I also lost one of my sisters. As you’ll read on Heather’s page,
“The feeling of loss is hard to explain, but it’s perhaps one of our most universal experiences as humans.”
We’ve all felt loss in one way or another in our lives. Even though it’s such a personal heartache, it connects us in this human experience we are each having. Losing my brother when I was young definitely shaped some of my life views. It created a sensitivity to others’ day to day lives–their happy times and their struggles. Losing my sister earlier this year reinforced the desire to continue to keep joy and hope in my life. Heather is a survivor and is here to share her story with us! I’ve truly been touched not only by her story, but her efforts to help by turning her pain into purpose for this day. And I’m so glad we are given these opportunities to get to know each other in life and create a desire to educate and prevent as best as we can.