Amazing Story of Amazing WomanTuesday, June 19, 2012
Few days ago, a lovely lady named Heather, contacted me to share her story with me. We both agreed that this story have to be shared with the rest of the world, so we decided to do it on my blog. She would like to turn her pain into purpose and become someone that other people can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like her own. I have to say, that I am more than happy that she contacted me and that I just met this amazing woman, she is a huge inspiration for me and for all of us.
After little talking we shared, I realized she is an amazing person, and here is her story:
It has often been said, “it takes a village to raise a child.” When you’re expecting, people like to say that to you. Even though I had heard it many times, it was something I came to believe only after the birth of my daughter.
She arrived on August 4, 2005. Although the pregnancy was uneventful, I did require an emergency C-section. Once she arrived, my daughter and I were immediately surrounded by our “village,” which included my parents, my husband’s family, and numerous friends. All of them came to greet Lily into the world and wish our family the best. Life had never been better and we could not begin to anticipate the storm that was looming over the horizon.
A month after returning to work, things took a turn for the worse. I was tired, breathless, and lacked energy most of the time. Even though these things could be attributed to new motherhood, I made an appointment with my doctor. After numerous tests, we discovered what was happening.
I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It seems I had been exposed as a child and was just developing symptoms some 30 years later. The doctors initially gave me 15 months to live. My first thoughts were about my baby and husband. After looking at them, I knew I had to do whatever it took to save my life.
We did just that. Together, with my husband, I flew to Boston to receive treatment from one of the best mesothelioma doctors in the country. I underwent an extrapleural pneumenectomy, which required the removal of my left lung on February 2. This was followed by 18 days of hospitalization, chemotherapy, and then radiation. It was excruciating for a new mother to say the least.
Our village surrounded us with prayers and love during this time. Many of the villagers were people we had never expected to be part of our close network. My parents had the daunting task of raising Lily while my husband and I were in Boston. They soon found themselves surrounded by their own village of people who also supported them with comfort and prayers. Some even offered to babysit for Lily while they worked each day.
During the time I was gone, Lily learned to eat food and roll over. I witnessed these events through emailed pictures, which I proudly showed to the nurses there. These pictures gave me hope and reason to go on, since my daughter was my primary focus in my fight for my life.
Through this situation, we have learned how fragile life can be. My favorite quote is “life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Cancer can be a funny thing, but with the bad also comes the good.
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Heather Von St James is a 43-year-old wife and mother. Upon her diagnosis of mesothelioma, she vowed to be a source of hope for other patients who found themselves with the same diagnosis. Now, over 6 years later, her story has been helping people all over the globe. She continues her advocacy and awareness work by blogging, speaking and sharing her message of hope and healing with others.
Check out her story at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.