Reaching My 2020 Goal as a Mesothelioma Survivor

Stories from Survivors
Emily Ward and her nephew Tyler

Back in January, I wrote that my long-term goal in my eighth year as a mesothelioma survivor was to make it to my nephew Tyler’s wedding in October.

Of course, this was before our country faced a global pandemic, and it was months prior to my difficult decision to stop mesothelioma treatment.

It turns out the deck was stacked against me even more than I thought, but I was able to see it through and achieve my goal.

I was able to see Tyler and Desirae start the next chapter of their life together eight years to the day from the mesothelioma surgery that gave me a second chance on life.

Making it to my nephew’s wedding was the main, if not only, long-term goal this year. It certainly kept me motivated and in the right mindset to overcome the adversity I faced with COVID concerns and after withdrawing from treatment.

Now that it’s in the books, I have no other big plans to make, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on living life. My attention now turns to little things and making the most of each day.

As I’ve said before, waking up in the morning is the first major accomplishment. From there, it’s about asking myself what I want to do that day. As long as I’m able to do things around the house and around town safely, I’ll continue to do that.

And I’m thankful that I’m here to do it.

Staying Safe During an Outdoor Wedding

Just the fact that the wedding happened as scheduled was a positive. For four years, Tyler and Desirae had separate venues booked for the ceremony and reception.

They did their due diligence to ensure everything was still on track leading up to the wedding, calling the venues and all companies involved. They also called each guest to get an accurate headcount to implement safety protocols.

Then, two weeks before the scheduled date, both venues canceled.

Instead of postponing or giving up on the whole thing, they decided to move forward. The ceremony and reception were held at a family home with less than two weeks to plan it.

Everything was outside other than indoor prep areas for the wedding party.

Emily Ward with Tyler and Desirae
Emily Ward with Tyler and Desirae. Emily was able to fulfill her long-term goal of seeing her nephew Tyler get married.

I made my intentions clear to Tyler and Desirae prior to attending. I sat in an area at a safe distance from others during the 20-minute ceremony. I saw all the traditional events, took part in the photos and was one of the first to eat as part of the groom’s family.

Tyler’s mom died of lung cancer when he was 12. He chose me for his mother-son dance, and we danced to the song “I Thought I Was Tough.”

Once the reception moved to the party phase and guests began to move around and socialize more, I left.

I followed the same precautions I’ve been taking since the COVID-19 pandemic started — keeping a safe distance, wearing my face shield and using common sense to avoid risky situations.

All in all, I was able to safely attend Tyler’s wedding and check that accomplishment off my list. The fact that I had to navigate a pandemic to achieve it makes it that much sweeter.

Next Step Is Living One Day at a Time

My outlook on life hasn’t wavered since the pandemic began or since I stopped cancer treatment.

I wake up in the morning, and I make the day happen. I make sure my feet are warm and the coffee pot is working.

My advanced mesothelioma means that I move a little slower than I used to, and I certainly tire easier, but as long as I’m able to live a simple yet fulfilling quality of life, that’s fine by me.

Whatever the day presents, you just do it. I vacuum the floors, I do laundry and I recently had breakfast with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time.

The important thing is to do what makes you happy as long as you’re able to do it.

As it gets colder here in Maine, I plan to pull out my bin of crafting materials to knit some hats and scarves that I can donate to my local church to supply to people who need them this winter.

I hope to have more breakfasts and lunches with friends, and I look forward to the day when I can have more of my family visit me in my home safely.

Now that the wedding is done, I can chill now. I don’t have to worry about these long-term aspirations anymore, and whatever happens, happens.

But in the meantime, I’ll continue to take it one day at a time, be thankful for all I have and live my best life.

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