Heather Von St James got in touch with me recently to ask if she could do a guest post here at The 21st Century Housewife. A survivor of mesothelioma, Heather is working to raise awareness of the disease, encourage those who are fighting it and to share the joys of an attitude of gratitude. Welcome, Heather!
Appreciating Every Day of Motherhood
On November 21, 2005, my doctor first gave me the news: I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. While the news would be difficult for anyone, as a new mother, I not only worried about my own health but also about what would become of my baby girl, who was only three and a half months old at the time.
I was referred to one of the world’s leading mesothelioma doctors for the treatment of mesothelioma, Dr. David Sugarbaker in Boston. Through consultations and treatments, he offered me hope, and as I faced the reality of one of my greatest fears, I also found within myself a greater strength than I had ever known.
At the time of my diagnosis, I had read that only two percent of all those diagnosed withmesothelioma cancer survived to the fifth anniversary of diagnosis. I realized that someone has to be part of that two percent and determined that I would be a one of this group who overcame all odds.
Throughout the following year, I spent all my strength fighting the cancer that threatened my life. In Boston, 1900 miles away from where my family devoutly cared for my baby girl, I underwent surgery to remove my left lung and the adjoining lining where the cancerous tumor was located. After surgery, I spent several months juggling my responsibilities as mom with chemo and radiation treatments.
When my daughter’s first birthday came, friends and family gathered for a huge celebration. In addition to a child’s birthday, we also celebrated my recovery. My battle with cancer neared completion. One month shy of the first anniversary of my diagnosis, I completed my final radiation treatment.
My battle with cancer and the following years of health have taught me many things. I cherish the small moments—my child’s laughter, puppy breath, a rainbow after a storm.
During treatment, I met many people whose names have been carved on my heart. Many of the courageous mesothelioma patients I met did not win the battle for their lives. Other courageous warriors still fight to this day. Others I met stood alongside sick loved ones. Each of these people inspires me. I desire to raise awareness concerning mesothelioma, to help others understand this is more than just a pointless television commercial. This condition affects real people.
Personally, I continue to live life to the fullest. On good and bad days, I always find a reason for thanksgiving. In gratitude, I have found the meaning of life.
Heather blogs at The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.