Cancer

Heather Von St. James: 10 Years Cancer Free! – What We Can All Learn from a Very Special Lady Who Beat Mesothelioma

 

Ever read about what someone else has been through and want to kick yourself for complaining about allergies, low blood sugar, or migraines. Not that any of those are fun, mind you, but they’re pebbles compared to the mountains others have had to carry or continue to carry.

Case in point – a few days ago, I was bemoaning seasonal allergies when I read about a 26 year old young mother who had a stroke.

26!

People all around us are fighting monsters each and every day. Not the ones who hide under the bed or in the closet. The monsters I’m talking about aren’t fond of hiding. They’re fond of getting in your face, yelling, taunting, and threatening to take everything you love.

What never ceases to amaze me is this – some of these monsters pick fights with the wrong people!

In 2005, Heather Von St. James and her husband had just welcomed a beautiful healthy baby girl into the world, Lily.  Is that a beautiful name, or what?

The joy of having a newborn was short lived as the fear of what the ever-daunting “C” word would mean. Cancer. Heather was diagnosed with a rare but preventable cancer mesothelioma. The cancer, she learned, was something she developed after wearing her father’s work jacket around the house as a child, a jacket she did not know carried toxic asbestos fibers that would affect the lining of her lungs. Excitement and potential turned to fear and uncertainty as the new family she created began to slowly process that she was given only 15 months to live.

Fear can be quite powerful, something that paralyzes most, and prohibits. But Heather did not allow this to happen. After some time asking herself why, wondering what would happen, fearing the future even, her survivor instincts kicked in. She knew that she had no other option but to beat this, and looking at Lily and Cam affirmed this. She couldn’t let the fear control her, or dictate her decisions. This led Heather to undergo an extremely risky surgery that involved the removal of her left lung, which her family later dubbed Lung Leavin’ Day. The surgery in addition to early detection, radiation, and chemotherapy are some of the reasons that she can proudly stand a 10 year mesothelioma survivor today. This is not something that many meso patients can brag, as she is one of few.

Lung Leavin’ Day!Heather now aims to be a voice for the victims, and speak out about the secrets of the asbestos industry, as the material that almost took her life is still around and legal today. She encourages everyone to conquer their fears, and even has a site where you can virtually smash your fears into the fire, much like her friends and family do with her for Lung Leavin Day. Fear can be powerful, yes, but it should never control your life.

A clear case of, yet again, an ugly monster picking a fight with the wrong girl!

I hope you’ll click through the links above and learn more about Heather, her monster, and how she put him in his place.  This is one of those wonderful stories where, not only did the monster not take everything she loved, he (in spite of himself!) left her with more strength than she probably knew she’d ever had.

Take one look at Heather’s face and you’ll agree with me, strength is a very beautiful thing!

 

Heather Von St. James: 10 Years Cancer Free!

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