Heather Von St. James
Courageous Mother, Wife and Survivor of Mesothelioma
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
I hear it often from people, how brave I am and how much courage I have. Sometimes I just have to laugh, because, going through what I’ve been through with my mesothelioma battle, I don’t feel very brave. At times, the fear was so overwhelming, all I could do was cry out to God to help me. I would love to say that through the last 7 years, I’ve learned to conquer my fears. After all, Lungleavin Day, our celebration of the anniversary of my extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, is all about overcoming fears. But I still have my moments, more often than I would like to admit. I have the usual fears creep in, my “scanxiety” I’ve blogged about before, little pangs of fear before I fly, but the biggest fear I struggle with is the fear of something happening to my daughter. This is something that has plagued me since she was born.
I’ve always had what I jokingly call puke-aphobia and, with having a kid, you know it something you have to deal with. This year has been particularly brutal on the gastroenteritis front for my poor Lily. Three times she has been sick this year in as many months. When she got sick the third time, the fear reared its ugly head in a big bad way. So much that I took her to the doctor and insisted he do a battery of tests to rule out anything. The thing I was most afraid of? Yep, cancer. Having dealt with cancer myself, and knowing so many others, my hypochondriac mind went right to the worst-case scenario. My husband, bless his heart, is always able to bring me back around to reasonable thinking. Although he understands why I go to the worst-case scenario, he doesn’t indulge it, and his voice of sound reason helps so much to calm me. Except in this case. I could not shake the feeling that something was seriously wrong. Turns out he was right. She is a perfectly healthy 7-year-old little girl. Every single test came back as normal as normal as could be and, for some reason, she has just gotten sick a lot this year.
The fear is crippling. The anxiety it causes makes my life miserable and those around me even more so. It is something that I have vowed to work on this year to not let the fear get out of control. Someone told me once that the word “FEAR” is an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and when you think about it? It is TRUE!! The fear is almost always worse than what I’ve imagined and blown out of proportion in my mind. I did something this time that was not easy for me to do. I asked for help from people who I trust and admire, and their guidance and prayer really helped me overcome this obstacle. They gave me some tools to use to stop the cycle and basically send that fear packing. Frankly, God is the one who gives me tremendous peace. I find that prayer and reading His word, writing scriptures that speak to me, and keeping them in a little notebook for my use is a way for me to keep grounded.
With Lungleavin Day coming up, the opportunity is here to write our fears on a plate and smash them into the fire, I’m going to once again take control of my emotions and overcome. I know I have the power to do it; sometimes it is just making the choice to do so.
I hope you too will do something on February 2nd to overcome your fears in the spirit of Lungleavin Day. If breaking a plate is over the top, I find that a paper plate works great, and burning it, or tearing it into hundreds of pieces. If you struggle with fear, no matter what it is, taking control, finding the root of it, and addressing it helps takes it away. I also find humor is a great way to conquer fear, hence “LUNGLEAVIN DAY” It was born out of the desire to make something funny out of something tragic. It is the day my lung left my body.
For this, my 7th Annual Lungleavin Day, I’m conquering fear by surrounding myself with amazing people and sharing our night with anyone who wants to join in. I hope you can join us. Go to my Facebook fan page to join the Lungleavin Day Event and we will be live webcasting on the night of February 2nd, 2013 6:00 pm to whenever the last plate is broken (Central time).
I hope you, too, find something healing about the day just like we do. Together, we will make 2013 fabulous.