Thursday, March 22, 2012

GUEST POST: A Celebration of Hope

Cancer is a double-edged sword. It is the worst thing that can happen, but in another aspect, it's a good thing. My life has been forever changed for the better because of it.

I received my cancer diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma on November 21, 2005. My first and only child had been born only three and a half months prior. No one ever expects such a terrible diagnosis, much less when celebrating the most joyous time of your life. I had a choice then: do I curse God and wallow in self-pity or do I face this diagnosis head on and wear the rose-colored glasses I have been known for my entire life? With a new baby girl in my world, I decided to fight for my life and choose to find the good in my situation.

I was referred to one of the leading mesothelioma doctors and realized that I could beat this thing. I vowed then that I wanted to help others who were diagnosed with this cancer and to give them the hope that is so easy to lose.

Upon learning I was to have surgery to remove the tumor on Groundhog Day in 2006, I nicknamed the tumor Punxsutawney Phil. My family and I renamed Groundhog Day in honor of the occasion, Lungleavin Day, as this was the day my lung was removed. Now, every year on the first weekend in February, we celebrate Lungleavin Day with a party in celebration of life, conquering fear, and of seeing the good that can come out of a bad situation. We celebrate hope.

If it were not for this cancer, I would not know so many of the wonderful people I met through my battle with mesothelioma. They are amazing people, some of the strongest, toughest and most passionate people I have ever met. They are committed to bringing awareness about a disease that most people never hear about, except in the occasional television commercial. I now call every wife, husband, son and daughter "friend" who has been affected by mesothelioma. I know them because of my own battle with cancer, and my life is richer for it.

My life has been given purpose. I want to continue to do what I can to give hope to those who need it.

Written by: Heather Von St. James

BIO: I am a mother to a quirky little 6-½ year old, Lily. She is my only child, and my whole world. When Lily was just 31/2 months old, I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma; a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it. As I’m sure you can imagine, the first thing that came to mind when I was diagnosed was my baby girl and how I wasn’t going to be able to watch her grow up.

After all that, I’m still here 6 1/2 years later and cancer free! I'd like to turn my pain into purpose and become someone that other people can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like my own.

Follow her journey on her blog at:

*****Please check out Heather's blog! I've added a hyperlink so its easy to follow :) BLESSINGS!!!!