I learned early on in my cancer treatment what a cruel, unfair thing cancer can be. It doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, or how much money you do or don’t have. Cancer has one purpose, to destroy the host, no matter who that host is – and many times, it succeeds.
Heather Von St. James
Courageous Mother, Wife and Survivor of Mesothelioma
Posts about "mesothelioma survivor"
Today is a day I was never meant to live, this year was one I wasn’t supposed to see, this life is one I wasn’t supposed to have.
No one ever prepares you to fight for your life. When your reality becomes just that, learning that your existence is not guaranteed, your world becomes something you could have never imagined. I always wanted to be a mother, and after marrying the most amazing man, I was ready to be a parent. We would be a new family. I would become a mother, and find a new kind of unconditional love. After giving birth to our daughter, I was overjoyed. That joy suddenly faded after losing weight and strength in my body, feeling that I could not physically breathe. I was concerned, but attributed the weight loss to my recent pregnancy. Finally feeling that something more was actually to blame, I saw a doctor, and was told I had mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. I was given 15 months to live. That was 10 years ago. Throughout the last ten years I have devoted my life to spreading awareness of the dangers of asbestos, sharing hope, and supporting others on their path towards a cancer-free life.
When I was in the hospital in Boston recovering from my extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, I remember looking at Cameron, my husband, and saying to him, “when we get through all of this, we are getting a motorcycle.” I think he started dreaming about the perfect bike that night.
The 7th Annual Lungleavin Day is all but a memory now. The remnants of a great night are all around; the shards of plates around the cold coals of the extinguished fire, the ice lanterns are nothing more than globes of ice, the dining room table still has the serving dishes used for the night sitting on it, all cleaned and waiting to be put in the storage bin until next year. The silent auction donations are still in their places and phone calls have been made to all the winners. This week will be spent delivering them and picking up the donations so generously made for mesothelioma research. What can't be seen is the gratitude that my husband, daughter and I have in our hearts for all of the love and support that so many have given us.
You hear the joking comments “Normalcy is highly overrated” and it is, until something happens to shake your foundation, and everything you have is turned upside down. For some people, it is a divorce, a break up, the loss of a loved one, but for me, it was my cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma—rather melodic sounding, but mostly just a deadly cancer. I fought it with everything I had and, right now, I’m doing well. At my last check up, there was no evidence of the disease. I am a 6 1/2 year survivor.
My heart broke again today. Sometimes I don't know if there is anything left to break. It has been broken so many times.
When I was diagnosed, I was thrust into this alternate universe of mesothelioma. For the first year, it was all about me; my surgery, my treatment, my health. But I had met two other patients that were going through the same things, so I was not alone. It was then I became aware of so many more people suffering. Every trip to Boston, I met someone new-- the elderly couple from Utah; the too-young man from New Jersey; the handsome, young father of two vivacious boys from Texas who’s wife also happens to be a Heather. By getting to know this man and his wife, my disease became more about others and my heart grew by leaps and bounds. The love for this family from Texas forever stamped on my heart-- I celebrated every victory with them. But the cancer came back and, sadly within a year, he died. That was the first time my heart broke. I cried for days for this family. I vowed to make a difference. I vowed to be a prayer warrior. I vowed to be strong.
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