Facing the Diagnosis and Learning the Power of Hope
I spent my life living optimistically. In my mind, the glass was always half full and the world was a beautiful place. My confidence in the world became shaken when I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 36. Three and a half months after my first and only child, Lily was born; the doctor told me that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma-a long stream of world that meant one thing: I was facing death head on. My diagnosis on November 21, 2005 made me realize that I had better get busy living, or spend the last few moments of my life regretting the things I had not done. I could give up, let myself sink into the depths of despair, or curse God; but I did not. My little girl was just starting out her life and she needed a mother to guide her. This was supposed to be a time of rejoicing after my daughter’s birth and instead I was facing the battle of my life, for my life. I wanted to be around to see my daughter graduate from high school and have a family of her own. Giving up was not an option.
I think of my battle optimistically. Having to fight cancer forced me to review my own life. I learned how to view any situation through rose-colored lens and find a way to escape from the fear. Other people have been diagnosed before and more will be in the future. I wanted to be there for future victims to give them the hope that I struggled so hard to find.
My fight was a lucky one. My doctor was one of the world’s best doctors for mesothelioma, Dr. David Sugarbaker. He set the Groundhogs Day of 2006 as my surgery date. Jokingly, I named my tumor Punxsutawney Phil and called the surgery day, Lung-leaving day. On this day, my left lung would be removed and leave my body. Every year since then, I have held a celebration for Lung-leaving Day. My cancer is gone, but it has left me with an extreme gratitude for getting a second chance to live again. Meeting other people who have dealt with this diagnosis has opened my eyes. As we struggle to bring awareness to the disease, I see the dreadful impact cancer has on the family of the other patients. Everyone who undergoes the battle is a friend in my eyes. They have faced down fear and learned to have hope. Life has a purpose now and I have dedicated myself to helping others learn how to deal with this terrible diagnosis.