As we get closer to The Big Day, we are constantly being reminded to give thanks. Maybe you've created a list with your kids of all the things you're thankful for. Maybe you've considered volunteering at a homeless shelter the morning of Thanksgiving, to give back to people who don't have as much as you. Maybe you are running a race sometime this week to celebrate and be thankful for your health. All of these are great ways to show how thankful you are. I am here today, to offer you another story for which to be thankful.
#ThankfulThursday is about how we should honor all the things for which we are thankful. During the holidays, this may be especially challenging. It's easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of holiday planning, cooking, traveling, and of course, shopping. But instead, let's reflect today on a story of true courage. A true story of what it means to be thankful.
This is the story of Heather. In 2005, at only 36 years old, Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. This diagnosis came just after she gave birth to her daughter, Lily. Without treatment, Heather was given just 15 months to live.
About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Those with the diagnosis are given, on average, 10 months to live. As a young girl, Heather was exposed to asbestos through fibers carried home by her father's construction work jacket. Asbestos is a material found in consumer and construction products and exposure to this material is believed to be a cause of pleural mesothelioma. Asbestos is still not banned in the United States and Canada.
After her diagnosis, Heather sought treatment from Dr. David Sugarbaker at Brigham and Women's hospital in my city of Boston. Nine years later, Heather continues to thrive. She is an inspiring writer, blogger and advocate for a global ban on asbestos. She has started a blog series Beating the Odds: My Decade of Survivorship to chronicle her past 9 years of treatment, survivorship, and advocacy work. In February 2016, Heather will be celebrating a huge 10 year anniversary since her live-saving lung removal surgery called Lung Leavin' Day. Mark your calendars and check out the link to participate!
To find out more about Heather and her amazing, powerful story, check out her story here.
I want to thank Heather for allowing me to share her exceptionally inspiring story. Being a part of something devoted to encouraging others to share their stories is humbling. Now I turn the initial #ThankfulThursday question back to you...