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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lung Leavin' Day and something you didn't know about me.

I want to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart. Cancer.

We all know this word a little too well. As a nurse, I see this word at least once a day in someone's medical history and it makes me cringe.

It makes me think of the hard times this person might have encountered with treatments, endless doctor's appointments and countless prayers.

It makes me think of the children and spouse this person has, and what went through their minds.

It makes me think of what they will choose to endure because of their children.

You're probably wondering why the title of my post is Lung Leavin' Day, well I was contacted by a reader, someone I didn't know and she shared her INCREDIBLE story with me. I was so moved, that I had to write about it and create awareness.

I want you to meet Heather. She was diagnosed with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. At the time of diagnosis she had a sweet, little 3 month old girl and a husband at home. Her doctors told her she only had 15 months to live if she did nothing, and about 5 extra years with treatment.

Well we know the cause of Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation of asbestos. When Heather was a little girl she wore her Dad's coat often, who incidentally worked with drywall containing asbestos.

To her dismay, she knew she had to fight. She had to give everything she could to see her little girl, Lily, grow up.

That's when Heather had multiple rounds of chemo, radiation and had one of her lungs removed. Her sister came up with Lung Leavin' Day the day that lung was removed. It was one of the most positive things they could have come up with.

Heather and her family could have drowned themselves in sorrow over the loss of one of the most vital organs, but they overcame this obstacle by punching it in the face.

So every year on February 2, Lung Leavin' Day, they write their fears on plates and smash them in a fire. How therapeutic and amazing!

You better believe this amazing girl, Beat the Hell Out of Cancer and is a 10 year survivor!

Heather, our beautiful cancer survivor!
Heather throwing plates of fear in the fire, because they are not worth fearing! 

Overcoming adversity in the best way possible isn't always easy. So I want to open up about my own personal Lung Leavin' day, this day is the day I graduated College, which is one of the most monumental times of my life. 

Many, many people don't know this about me, but I didn't grow up in the conventional way. 

I don't really open up about my family because I don't have a good relationship with a good bit of them. Something you probably don't know about me, is that I grew up very poor and misguided. My mom didn't really accomplish very much in her life due to drugs and alcohol and my dad wasn't in the picture half the time, due to mental illness and very poor life choices.

More than a few of the people in my family thought I was destined to lead a life that my parents did.

So often times growing up I was told the following:

I would never go to college because I didn't have the money to go. 

I should most likely follow some kind of trade that didn't require very much school. 

I wasn't smart enough.  

Long story short, I had to figure out a good bit of life on my own. I refuse to fall into the "oh woe is me".  I used all of these words as fuel. Fuel to the fire of finding myself.

I wanted to change my life and where it was going. I needed something that was my own. That's where education came in. After high school, I figured out that I was actually pretty smart and can do this college thing pretty well. My new goal was to become the first woman in my family to graduate college.

I graduated with my first bachelors degree in 2012 and now two years later in 2014, yet another degree in one of the most respected professions, Nursing, and in May of 2016 I will graduate with my Bachelors degree in Nursing.

I did it. I was the very first woman in my family to graduate college.

In the times that I wanted to quit and give up, my grandmother's words resonated in my head, "you aren't smart enough". That made me try harder. Work harder. Do Better.  Do I let those words of doubt hurt me?


Those words pushed me to better myself, and enabled me to truly see what i'm made of. I'm done trying to prove them wrong, because I did so long ago.

I did this for me and no one else.

Moral of the story: You can literally do anything you set my mind to, no matter what it is.

I don't usually open up about things like this, because this is a very deep part of me. A deep place that I am just now starting to understand and become comfortable sharing.

I don't want you to feel sorry for me one bit. I had a lot of people in my life that came in and loved me and helped me to know my potential. Since my childhood, my Dad has stepped up to be one of the biggest supporters I have, he changed his life for the better to become apart of mine. I will forever be grateful.

Facing adversity happens to everyone, it matters what fire you choose to fuel, the positive or the negative. Like, Heather she made her situation a  positive one, in which ever direction it was going. It's wonderful to meet people in the world who have all the odds against them come out better on the other side.

A special thanks to Heather for continuing to spread awareness about Mesothelioma and her beautiful story!

Special people in my life today that never stopped believing in me, sometimes when I couldn't believe in myself. Thank you so much for contributing to my Lung Leavin' day!

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