Overcoming Mesothelioma: A Mother’s Story – Part 1
Kendra Ferreira is a force of nature: Mother to three sons (Chris, PJ, Stefan), wife (to Paul) gifted artist (check out her art blog here) and a long-term mesothelioma survivor. With Mother’s Day around the corner, we wanted to get a sense of how Kendra beat mesothelioma and how her motherhood played into her recovery. Kendra spoke with MesotheliomaGuide from her home in Rhode Island, where she resides with her husband, Paul.
MesotheliomaGuide: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today!
Kendra Ferreira: It’s my pleasure!
MesotheliomaGuide: We’ll jump right into it. What was it like battling mesothelioma, being a mother with young kids?
Kendra Ferreira: When I was first diagnosed, my first thoughts were about my boys. How they would handle my diagnosis? Would they be scared? My mother had previously died of cancer two years before and the boys had been very upset. I didn’t want them to have to lose their mother.
MesotheliomaGuide: How old were your kids when you were diagnosed?
Kendra Ferreira: At the time I was diagnosed, they were 17, 16 and 11. At that time, we were beginning the college search for our 17 year-old, PJ, who was a junior. Our 16 year-old, Chris, was studying for SATs, and the 11 year-old, Stefan, was in middle school. They were also involved in sports. I wasn’t sure how I was going to care for them while I went through surgeries and chemotherapy.
MesotheliomaGuide: When you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, how did you explain your diagnosis to your kids, while not alarming them too much?
Kendra Ferreira: I explained to the boys that I had cancer and would have to undergo surgery and chemo. However, I never told them the grim odds of survival that my doctors were telling me. I guess you could say I downplayed the seriousness of the disease and tried to keep things as normal as possible in our house. Soon after I began treatments, all three boys began having trouble keeping their grades up in school. I knew they were holding in their fear, and it was coming out in their schoolwork.
MesotheliomaGuide: You’ve mentioned that your kids helped in your recovery. How did they do that?
Kendra Ferreira: My boys helped my recovery process just by needing me. I remember standing in the laundry room one day, staring at a pile of laundry, I had just had chemo and was feeling so weak and tired. I also had to make school lunches and go grocery shopping. I can look back and laugh now, but at the time I remember saying to myself, “I can’t die. Who’s going to do all of this?” Besides every day tasks, we also had big decisions to make, such as the college search, and my oldest son’s high school graduation the following year. These turned out to be pleasant distractions and kept me occupied.
MesotheliomaGuide: Were there any moments that stand out in your mind that gave you strength during your recovery?
Kendra Ferreira: Sometime during my treatment process, my youngest son had a school project in which he had to choose someone he admired and write a story about that person. He chose me, and I recall going up on stage at the school presentation while he read his story to everyone in the audience. It was quite an honor. We also took a family trip to the Bahamas half way through my treatments; it gave us a chance to get away as a family to somewhere far away from our fears to enjoy time together.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our exclusive Mother’s Day interview with Kendra Ferreira. We’ll discuss how Kendra’s experiences have helped her support other patients as well as her relationship with her family and her Mother’s Day traditions.