Our baby's first Christmas, 2005- It was supposed to be memorable, and it was, but for all the wrong reasons. We did everything we usually do; Christmas Eve with my husbands family, but despite the festive air of the season, no one could ignore the dark cloud hanging over us. To this day, when I decorate my Christmas tree and I put the "Baby's First Christmas" ornament on the tree, I do so with a bittersweet feeling.
Heather Von St. James
Courageous Mother, Wife and Survivor of Mesothelioma
Posts from 2011
My entire life I have been accused of being the eternal optimist. It is a trait that has always served me well, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that being an optimist, would play a key part in my very survival. When I was diagnosed with on November 21st, 2005, just 3 months after my baby was born, my initial reaction, of course was shock and fear. But once my options were explained to me, my optimistic outlook kicked in full gear. I was given 3 options. I could do nothing, and live maybe 15 months. Undergo chemotherapy and radiation and hope for up to 5 years. Or, I could have a risky surgery called an extrapleural pneumonectomy and increase my chance of survival to 10 years or more. My husband and I immediately opted for the surgery. Dying was not an option.
It was December 5, 2005, we were on a plane to Boston. We had an appointment set for the following day to see Dr. David Sugarbaker and the International Mesothelioma program team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We were scheduled to be at the hospital early in the morning for an orientation with the team, followed by a slew of tests in the afternoon.
It was upon attending the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s annual Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma back in June, that I first learned of Mesothelioma Awareness Day and the foundation’s plans to descend on New York City in September. As a survivor of the disease myself, the idea intrigued me but I didn’t really think it was going to be realistic for me to go.
I spent the evening making phone calls to family, and friends. My parents live over 600 miles away, and upon hearing the news, made plans to be out here the next day. It’s at least a 10-hour drive, but they needed to be here. I needed them to be here. No matter how old you are, it seems like you always want your mom and dad when you are sick. It was a comfort to know they would be here.
Knowing that something was seriously wrong with me, I called our family physician to help me find an answer to the question that was haunting me; could I really have mesothelioma cancer?
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August 4th, 2005, 3:00 a.m. I sat up to get out of bed to walk around after a couple of hours of fitful sleep. We had already gone to the hospital earlier that day thinking THIS IS IT! SHE IS ON HER WAY!! Sadly, my contractions stopped once we got there and we were sent back home. As I stood up from the bed that night, all of the sudden, I felt a "pop" and a "whoosh"! My water broke! This was it! I yelled out to my husband, Cameron to hurry because our baby was coming.