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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Heather Von St. James

Today I would like to share my blog with Heather, so she can tell her story.



For Lily: A Mother's Fight Against Cancer

Life can sometimes present challenges that seem impossible to bear. When I was 36 years old, my life was suddenly turned upside down. After my daughter’s birth, my husband and I were happy beyond measure. Unfortunately, this blissful period was brief.

About a month after Lily was born, I went back to my full-time job. I soon noticed that I had no energy. I was unusually tired, and I was losing up to seven pounds a week. I knew that motherhood could cause exhaustion, but I felt that something else was going on. Sadly, I was correct. I consulted my doctor and underwent a battery of tests.

Only three and a half months after I gave birth, I received the news that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. It’s a cancer of the lining of the lung, and it’s caused by exposure to asbestos. I was unaware that I had been in contact with asbestos in my childhood. Without treatment, I had about 15 months to live.

I was devastated. All I could think about was how my death would affect my husband and baby daughter. My husband and I decided to do everything possible to beat the disease, no matter what it took.

The treatment protocol we decided on was the most extreme option. We traveled from our Minnesota home to Boston. On February 2, 2006, I had an extrapleural pneumonectomy; this procedure removes the cancerous lung plus certain parts of the chest and heart linings and half of the diaphragm. I was in the hospital for 18 days. Two months later, I underwent chemotherapy followed by radiation.

While I was in treatment, Lily stayed at my parents’ house in South Dakota. I can never give enough thanks to the friends and family who helped my parents and Lily during this horrible period of our lives; their role in helping us survive the ordeal was enormous.

I missed a lot of Lily’s important milestones. While under my parents’ care, she started rolling around and eating solid food. It was difficult to be apart, but I knew she was in good hands. Like any mother in the same position, my priority was fighting my cancer so I could be there to see her grow up.  

Although cancer is a nightmare, it can actually bring some good. I gained strength to fight from knowing that my daughter and husband needed me. Life is fragile, and our family appreciates it more now. I would advise anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis or any other difficult challenge to look for the good in every bad situation.




Foe more information go to.....http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather/

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