Sunday, February 12, 2012

I hope they bury her upside down

Being a parent is hard. Having cancer is hard. Learning you're going to have to kick cancer's ass while running on a few hours sleep because you're caring for an infant? Well, that's just unimaginable. But Heather Von St.James did just that. This is her story. 

You Want a Piece of Me? Take it!

The day my daughter was born changed my life forever. I was 36 and she gave a whole new meaning to my life, a new reason for living. A reason I would need desperately when I was diagnosed, just three and a half months later, with malignant pleural mesothelioma on Nov 21, 2005. Cancer.

People have often said I was an optimist. They accused me of "wearing rose-colored glasses." They said I saw the glass as half full. They were right. That trait has served me well my whole life, and I saw no reason to give up on it now. So I squared my shoulders and chose to be happy and hopeful. I could have wallowed into a deep depression. I could have given up. I could have cried out in anger to God, "How could you do this to me!?" Nobody would have judged me if I had. They would have understood the pain and fear. But I refused to accept this path. I chose instead to do what any mother would; I fought for my life for my daughter. I couldn't give up, not with her needing me. So I put on those glasses of rose. I chose to see the hope, and to reach for that one bright spot, and ignore the black hole surrounding it.

I was scheduled for my mesothelioma treatment on Groundhogs Day 2006 to undergo surgery to remove my lung. We nicknamed the tumor Punxsutawney Phil. Every year we celebrate that day as "Lungleavin Day," in place of Groundhogs Day. Every day since then is a gift, and every year is such a blessing. It is a celebration of life. It's a celebration of what I have learned, whom I have met, and the hope I have.

I never would have met some of the tough, amazing people I have, were it not for this disease. I would never have known the passion and strength they had. The people bringing awareness to this disease, the people who fight it along with their families, all of these brave warriors against mesothelioma, I can now call friends. If I had not battled my own fight, I would never have been blessed with knowing the other fighters. Because of my own fight, I can reach out and help other people fighting the same battle. Because of my battle, I know what these other brave warriors are facing. Because of my war, I have another purpose in life. I can reach out and give others hope. I can help them do what they cannot do on their own. Cancer wanted a piece of me, and it did. But cancer couldn't take away my hope. I'm a survivor.

This has been a guest post from Heather Von St.James. Follow her journey HERE.


Q said...

Great post, Heather. My wife has been battling breast cancer since 2003. I know exactly how devastating the disease can be. Like you, she learned how to be a fighter. She doesn't let it affect her and she continues living a normal life. I draw so much strength from her and it allows me to ignore the road blocks in life. I now have a totally different perspective on life because of her. The things that used to bother me don't any more. They're insignificant. For The Mrs. to battle this disease with a smile like she does, I refuse to let little things bother me. I keep a smile as well.

Catch My Words said...

I can't imagine how difficult it would be to go through all that.


Up Close said...

Nice post.
God bless her!
more life to all of us!

the Tsaritsa said...

Bless you, Heather! Keep fighting :)

Unknown said...

Anyone fighting cancer is courageous! I remember when my mom lost her fight. She had so much life, guts, and determination but cancer still took her. Great post!


Linda Rogers said...

I love your positive attitude and I am sure that is a big part of your survival. I am an eight year lung cancer survivor (who never smoked)and I plan to stay cancer-free.