Thursday, July 25, 2013

Heather Von St. James, Beating The Odds

I was contacted  about a week or so ago by Heather Von St. James. She is a  cancer survivor.  She asked me if I would help spread awareness and tell her story on my blog. We don't know each other, so she had no way of knowing how many times I've seen cancer wreak havoc on a life I care about.  She has no idea how many times I've read the words "it's back" on blogs. And she has no idea how many times I've prayed for friends taking their littles in for their routine blood work to make sure "it's " still gone. And she would never know how many times I've asked God "Why did you have to take that one"?  So I welcomed the chance to have her story here on my blog. It's scary as hell, and Heather is one tough chick. I was incredibly moved by her story, as I'm sure you will be too.  Please read on, share and learn!   

Beating the Odds, Heather Von St. James

I always knew that if I was lucky enough to become a mother, I wanted to do everything the right way. When I actually became pregnant, I scoured pregnancy books and sought out expert advice. Those nine months were the happiest of my life as I spent my time daydreaming about motherhood. That day I saw my beautiful daughter Lily for the first time, I knew how blessed I was.

I could never have imagined the devastating news I would receive just 3 ½ months after Lily was born. Unfortunately, I found out I had a life-threatening form of cancer known as pleural mesothelioma, and that without treatment I would have only 15 months to live. Dying before my daughter’s 2nd birthday was not an option. I was determined to do anything they asked if it would give me a shot of surviving so I could raise Lily.

When I was pregnant and envisioning life as a mother, I thought this time in my life would be spent caring for Lily. Instead, my husband and I decided that I should receive mesothelioma treatment 1200 miles away in Boston, Massachusetts. As difficult as this surgery was, which involved removing the lining of my heart and diaphragm as well as my left lung, it was more difficult losing precious moments with Lily. I was in Boston for a month, and then spent the remainder of my daughter’s first year undergoing treatment (radiation and chemotherapy). I am grateful I had so many people in my life, including my wonderful husband and parents, who offered their support.

For the most part, life resumed as I had hoped when we finally got home. Lily and I were able to spend time playing, going to the park, and having play dates with friends. There were times that I physically didn’t feel up to being active, but I still loved every single minute spent with Lily. I wanted her to know how much I cherished and loved her, and how grateful I was for this second chance.

Eight years later, my husband Cam and I are able to cherish a bright, positive, beautiful little girl. 

We know how blessed we are to have her, and she knows why we feel this way; she understands how precious life is. We experienced this ordeal together and I will never forget what it took to get here today.

Fortunately, a lot of positive things happened as a result of this horrific cancer. My family we are grateful for every minute we have together. I tell my story, hoping that it offers comfort to anyone who might be going through a similar situation – you are not alone. I’m living proof that it is possible to overcome anything.

I've listed a couple of links if you'd like to continue to read about Heather and her story.