Lauren Mesley

‘Doctors told me it was ‘a blocked milk duct.’ It felt like a lemon seed under my skin, close to my areola, and hadn’t hurt at all.’: Woman with breast cancer stays positive, ‘I’ve got this. Everything will be okay.’

“My diagnosis came when I was a 48-year-old, post-menopausal woman with no biological children. I told myself, ‘I have to get my sh*t together quick!’ Things were progressing well until a few days after we moved into a new home. I was experiencing severe shortness of breath, which I’d mistakenly attributed to chemo side effects. Long story short, 840 gallons of propane leaked into our home. By the time the leak was discovered, my treatment plan had been modified.”

‘My husband divorced me after my baby was born. At 28, I had to move back in with my parents as a single, special needs mom.’: Mom to daughter with Cerebral Palsy finds new perspective on ‘true happiness’

“Emily was only 2 pounds. She was so small my husband’s wedding band fit around her tiny wrist. She was crying, but I could not hear her. It didn’t seem real. Quickly, I was told by nurses, ‘You cannot touch her.’ I felt helpless. With each day, it became more and more evident my marriage was not going to survive this horrific ordeal.”

‘My friend thinks you’re cute.’ A co-worker handed me a napkin with a phone number on it. ‘My family doesn’t know I’m gay.’: Woman loses partner to stage 4 lung cancer

“One night, my wife couldn’t lift her legs up the two steps on the front porch. She was carrying a bag with a t-shirt in it. The weight of it was enough to make her fall. I went out to find her hunched over, completely unable to move. She stayed there, crying and yelling, ‘Just leave me out here! Let me die!’ I knew something was wrong. In the freezing cold, I dragged her. ‘How do we tell the kids?’ The numbness was unbearable.”

‘A 3-legged dog and a one-armed wife? We even each other out!’ Sandy was always meant to be mine.’: Woman with anxiety disorder, limb difference finds ‘angel’ therapy dog

“One day, Sandy sat by my bed. I hadn’t walked 50 steps in over a year. She was DONE. ‘What’s up, Sandy?’ She looked right at me and barked! ‘What is it?’ She barked again! I said, ‘Oh, please. What in the world are you doing?’ She was egging me to get up, to move. She wouldn’t quit until I walked. Once I took just a step, she stopped and laid down! Sandy started me on my journey back to life. She took away my fear and, in return, let me give her something I so desperately needed: unconditional love.”

‘Maybe it’s time to change your major.’ I couldn’t turn to my parents. I’m happy I didn’t listen to that advice.’: Daughter of Mexican immigrants becomes first generation graduate, inspired by brother’s illness

“During our phone conversation I remember him telling me, ‘Mija, I am so proud of you. I knew you would get accepted!’ It’s moments like these when I am happy to share with my parents because I know they are not only my accomplishments, but theirs as well.”

‘We’re still kids and we’re having a kid!’ In shock, I took six pregnancy tests to be sure.’: Young couple miscarries twice, has to advocate for mom’s health, is now pregnant with a healthy baby

“I kept telling myself, ‘I just spotted, I haven’t bled a lot. There’s no way I’m having a miscarriage.’ I kept denying what the doctors and my gut told me. My coworker hugged me. ‘I’m so sorry and I hope you will be okay,’ she said. I thanked her and left as I no longer wanted to be there in the store crying.”

‘My birth mom did cocaine while pregnant. I was hooked before I was even born. ‘Don’t stop,’ my boyfriend told me. I listened.’: Woman overcomes life-long battle with addiction, ‘Sober is sexy!’

“I knew they would reject me if I said no. ‘Sure, I’ll try it.’ I made a fool of myself. My ‘friends’ loved it. They bragged about me at school, about how cool I was. It was a thrill to be accepted for once. I didn’t know it was for the wrong reasons. It got to the point where I was homeless, using drugs to try to overdose. But it never worked. Every morning, I would wake up, cry, and tell myself it was the last time I was going to take drugs. But every night I would use again, trying to kill myself. Every day, and every night.”

‘Karen didn’t make it.’ My heart dropped. The day I planned to kill myself, I lost my friend to a motorcycle wreck.’: Man battling suicide vows to ‘keep going’ after friend’s unexpected death

“I went to work like normal. I put on my ‘happy face.’ Nobody knew what I planned to do after my shift. Living alone, I didn’t have anyone to stop me this time. When I went back to the service desk, the phone rang. I could tell Pam had been crying. ‘She didn’t make it.’ I fell up against the wall. I couldn’t breathe or swallow. I had to break the news to my co-workers. That night, I sat on my porch. I blurted out, ‘I don’t want to die anymore.’ As soon as I said it, this huge amount of pressure was just taken off of my chest. I had to keep going.”

‘Are you ok? You’re bleeding.’ He turned to me with the scariest eyes. ‘You want to see blood? I’ll show you blood.’: Woman embraces Bipolar disorder, ‘Life isn’t easy, but I’m living it to the fullest!’

“My stepdad screamed at me to call my dad and demand money. I said no. He started smashing the phone on the kitchen table. In my little pajamas, I ran for blocks without stopping and just hid. After my parents lost their jobs, there wasn’t enough money for drugs. I was scared to go home. The school knew, but did nothing. I was ‘trouble’ and wasn’t allowed to hang out with any kids in school.”

‘You have cancer. I wasn’t expecting to give this news.’ I felt my stomach. My baby is still there. Still with me.’: Woman diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant fears for her and her baby’s lives, ‘I just want someone to tell me I’m okay.’

“My husband asked, ‘Isn’t this what you wanted?’ I locked eyes with those two little lines. A baby. Healthy, happy, whole. Yet a dimple is not just a dimple, not on the boob. But I know the result already. I saw it on the screen. The large dark shadowy mass on the screen, looking down at me. I was wheeled away into the great unknown.”

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