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~ my favourite items made by other artists and crafters from all over the world

~ things that inspire me

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Braveheart

Recently I was approached by Heather - {a lady who has beaten Cancer} asking if she could do a guest post.   I am more than happy for Heather to tell her story and raise more awareness about this horrible disease.  Someone very close to us is currently suffering from a type of cancer- very difficult to watch.  Here is Heather's story...





Mesothelioma: No Respecter of Age

“You have cancer.” Those three little words have the power to strike fear in the bravest of hearts. I was a new mother with a three-and-a-half-month-old child when I first heard them. The most devastating part of my diagnosis lay in the type of cancer. I had malignant pleural mesothelioma cancer. This cancer, generally associated with asbestos exposure, is seldom seen in young people, especially young women. I was only 36 and had not worked in the construction industry, as have most who are diagnosed with mesothelioma. My father, however, was a construction worker. Unknowingly, throughout my childhood, he had brought home a harmful white powder on his clothes each evening. Years later, my life hung in the balance.

At the beginning of the medical field’s fight against mesothelioma, the majority of sufferers were men who had worked in construction, home repair or one of the military careers where asbestos exposure occurs. Slowly, the scourge of mesothelioma spread. Women who worked near or lived with men who held these hazardous jobs became ill. Wives who did loads of laundry covered in asbestos dust contracted mesothelioma. School employees who worked for years in outdated buildings full of asbestos also became ill. During all of this, however, the age of mesothelioma sufferers remained high. Those considered to be at risk had spent years working in and around asbestos or in the company of a worker who brought the poison home on clothing and shoes.

Recently, a new group of people diagnosed with mesothelioma has emerged. These are the children of those workers. For years, they innocently hugged dad or mom when he or she came home wearing work clothes peppered with asbestos. Like myself, many of these children innocently borrowed Dad’s work jacket when they went out to complete a chore such as feeding pets or taking out the trash. Our parents had no idea of the consequences that would come.

Since my diagnosis and subsequent recovery, I have spent much time working with victims and their family members. The more time I spend in this community, the more young patients I meet. Many of them are women and men in their 20s or 30s. Many are newlyweds or new parents. It seems that just as their lives are beginning, a mesothelioma diagnosis brings everything to a halt. Fortunately, this halt doesn’t have to be a permanent one. New research and technical advances are currently evolving to fight mesothelioma, and mesothelioma treatment options are advancing. More and more survival stories bring hope to each person who hears the devastating diagnosis, “You have mesothelioma.” Hope keeps community members fighting.

As a survivor of mesothelioma, I believe the most important thing I can do is to spread awareness. In the medical community, we have seen great strides in early diagnosis and successful treatment when average people take it upon themselves to raise awareness. When people learn, know and understand about mesothelioma, more research and better diagnostics will become available. When I can help someone stop living in fear of mesothelioma, I know I am doing the right thing.


Thank you Heather - you are completely inspiring.

xx



1 comment:

Kristie Franklin said...

Heather is a very brave woman to have successfully completed and overcome this type of cancer. I never knew you could get cancer from someone who had been wearing clothes with asbestos dust on them by touching and handling the clothes they were wearing.

It's wonderful that she is bringing awareness to others who find themselves in the same situation as she was and who best to give them the support and encouragement they need but someone who had already gone through it.

Bravo to you Heather!

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