Disclaimer: I have received information and materials from AstraZeneca. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.
Who would ever think that they would one day have cancer? I sure didn’t, but almost 15 years ago, just after having surgery for something I thought was nothing, I was told I had cancer.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that I am a 14-year-and-counting peritoneal mesothelioma survivor. A mouthful right? Yea, I know. I was misdiagnosed at first and told that I had a fibroid, later to find out it was cancer. Let me give you a little background on what peritoneal mesothelioma is. It’s a type of cancer that develops in the lining of your abdomen and covers the organs in the abdomen. You can read more about it here: https://healthcare.utah.edu/huntsmancancerinstitute/gi-cancer/peritoneal-mesothelioma.php
My Story In Short Form
To make a long story short, one thing I say all the time is, “Everything happens for a reason.” Sometimes we turn our focus toward why something happens instead of what it is teaching us. Let that marinate for a minute.
I remember going to my post-op visit and the doctor saying how well I did and that the cancer was gone. Year five came, and my doctor told me I was a walking miracle since the current five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is just 10 percent. I may not have been your typical peritoneal mesothelioma patient, and that’s OK. Let’s just say I’ve broken the mold. Remember the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” because you never know!
As part of my treatment, I had surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, or HIPEC. Studies show that HIPEC drastically improves life expectancy in about half of the peritoneal mesothelioma patients who have had the procedure. It definitely worked in my favor and was a success!
My faith played a pivotal role in my battle with mesothelioma. When I learned the horrible news about what peritoneal mesothelioma was and the poor prognosis, my faith kept me lifted. The thing is, when you have faith you don’t know how your story will take form or how things will play out, and that’s not for us to worry about.
Special People For Special Times
Having cancer does make you feel alone. But when you can go through it with someone else who can resonate with you, it makes such a difference. Fourteen years ago, there wasn’t much information or awareness about mesothelioma. It is a rare cancer, and having peritoneal mesothelioma makes it even more rare. I didn’t find anyone who had mesothelioma until years – more like a decade – later, after I was diagnosed.
It’s so good to know that there are programs, organizations, and people out there willing to help you on this journey.
Margaret Stauffer, Chief Mission Officer of the Cancer Support Community, San Francisco Bay Area, holds a great passion for helping cancer patients through their journey. I got a chance to speak with Margaret and found that helping others who were diagnosed with cancer is near and dear to her. Her mom lost her battle with breast cancer and since then Margaret has been on a mission to extend resources to patients with cancer.
During our conversation, I mentioned that as a cancer survivor, mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health is one of those things that gets placed on the back burner when it really needs to be tackled just like any other health issue.
At Cancer Support Community, Margaret develops new programs, and oversees all counseling services dedicated to all people impacted by cancer. To put the cherry on top, Margaret is a psychosocial-oncology expert and was part of the team that created their Open to Options program. This is where she discusses things with patients such as treatment options, and questions to ask their medical team. It’s no wonder why she won the 2021 President’s Award from the Cancer Community Awards (or C2 Awards) created by AstraZeneca in partnership with Scientific American Custom Media. Redefining cancer care takes a community. From caregivers, healthcare professionals, advocacy groups, scientists, policymakers and so many others, the C2 Awards celebrate the unsung heroes of cancer care, whose relentless drive to affect positive change has given new hope to those affected by this devastating disease.
It was such an honor to speak with Margaret and touching to know that there are people who have a passion for helping those impacted by cancer.
Just like Margaret, I want to be able to make a difference in people’s lives who have been impacted by cancer. Being able to share my story on many platforms warms my heart. Just by telling my story, I’m able to inspire others and give them hope. Hearing my story and witnessing that I live a thriving life as a peritoneal mesothelioma survivor opens the door of hope for current cancer patients, their caregivers and family members.
Visit YourCancer.org for more information on the Cancer Community Awards and all of the 2021 winners who are redefining cancer care for all patients. https://bit.ly/3nKFNQV
Leaving a thought with you. Has someone made a huge impact on your life?