I've been making it a game for myself to think of things to be thankful for. I was also pleased to make my 745th entry into my thankful journal this morning. One day the light will shine again. Though honestly it may be awhile. Even in normal years, in the weeks approaching December 15th - Lilly's angelversary - are not my favorite days.
Well I suppose that was not a cheery beginning for a blog post. However, my actual blog post IS cheerful. It is a beautiful story of healing for a woman named Katherine. Katherine contacted me earlier this month and wondered if I would share her story of healing from Mesothelioma. I have blogged about this cancer caused by asbestos once before here. I have been impressed with the initiative that survivors of this cancer take in spreading awareness. (I have been contacted by a couple other survivors, through my blog, over the years.) I have been thinking that those of us in the Trisomy 18 world might could learn some awareness spreading tips from these people.
Now - here is Katherine's story, in her own words:
Katherine Keys has been fighting Mesothelioma for 9 years. If you don’t know, mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When she was first diagnosed doctors told her she had less than 2 years. Katherine refused to believe her time was limited and instead decided to fight the cancer. Katherine is convinced that it was her positive attitude and determination to win that has allowed her to survive against the odds.
At first Katherine thought she had the flu. She was prescribed medication and painkillers but the pain persisted. When the pain was too much to take, Katherine went to the ER, it was there that she discovered she had cancer. Katherine was 49 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 1 pleural Mesothelioma.
For treatment, Katherine had her right lung and the lining of the lung removed, a major surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). After several months of recovery, Katherine began radiation treatments. She had treatments five times per week for several months. Although she had been scheduled for chemotherapy treatments, she was relieved to learn that she didn’t have to have them.
Upon completing her treatments, Katherine attended her regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. At first, they were monthly, then every two months, three months, six months…and now annually. Her follow-up appointments typically consistent of blood tests, a PET scan, x-rays and other tests to confirm that she is still cancer-free.
Thank you again Katherine, for sharing your story! I love that you see every day as a gift. :)
UPDATE: I asked Katherine how she was exposed to asbestos. This is her reply:
I was exposed from years of wiring work for Texas Power and Light Company. Asbestos was a commonly used material in construction up until the 1980’s because of it’s fire resistant characteristic. Some of the materials that contained asbestos include wire insulation, vinyl floor tiles, paint, ceiling tiles, wall insulation, cement, window caulk, and much more. Sometimes tearing out some of these things is necessary. This can release toxic asbestos dust into the air.