And then dropped the ball. My impending doctor's appointment and news of my need for surgery fell right around that time period and I fell off the "returning emails" map even more than usual.
BUT HERE IT IS NOW!
She had a 3 month old daughter and found herself with a diagnosis of Pleural Mesothelioma.
I'll admit, the only connection I made with Mesothelioma was seeing those lawsuit commercials (that I mostly ignored as a kid).
This email marked the first time in my life that I'd met someone with direct experience with this particular disease. It made me pause and take note...it was suddenly a REAL thing and not just something I'd seen in between pieces of my television shows.
I didn't know that treatment is difficult because of the rareness of this particular brand of cancer. Treating cancer is hard enough but treating one where we know very little about it? Even harder.
Thankfully, I don't have a lot of experience with cancer in my life. Yes, a few family members have been affected but it was during my childhood so I was shielded from that.
I do know, however, that skin cancer is a very real threat in my family. I can also tell you that my husband went in for an UNRELATED skin condition and came out having 2 moles removed for testing...only to go back to have them removed permanently for abnormal cell growth. With zero family history of skin cancer.
So maybe I was wrong in feeling detached from cancer as a whole. It can, and does, happen to anyone. As with ANY other disease, early detection is key.
I think what scares me the most about cancer is the suddenness and the fact that it can mimic many benign diseases. When I say "fatigue, cough, fever, night sweats, muscle weakness" you're probably thinking "flu" or the common cold. Those are some of the early signs of Mesothelioma....as well as a slew of other diseases.
This post has gone into more lecture territory than I usually go but...it's necessary.
You all know I'm not one to run to the doctor at every sniffle or sneeze. Most fevers take care of themselves in a day or so. All of my colds settle in my chest so having a cough for a week or two is par for the course.
But I also acknowledge that you have to know your body and accept help when it's necessary.
So, sarcastic readers, take a moment to be serious and promise me that you'll do just that. Know your family history! (so important) Know your risk level! Know your body! Go see your doctor if your gut tells you something is wrong.
I've read several "I had cancer" stories where the common vein is "I ignored it." Because she didn't want to be a burden to her family. Because he didn't want to seem like a wuss. Because it was "just a cough."
Please take a moment to click on Heather's name at the top of this post and learn a little more about her!
Thank you, Heather, for contacting me to do this! I wasn't aware I had so much to say on the topic. :)
Do you have experience with cancer in your life? Share your story in the comments!