And now it’s time for a…
Let me introduce you to an amazing mom Heather. Today she’s sharing her amazing story of becoming a mom and finding out she had cancer all at the same time. She’s certainly an inspiration wanting to spread the message below. I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a few moments, read her story and visit the link in her bio. If you feel led to share on your social networks please also do so.
Before I became a mother, I had no idea how much I would need to rely on others. When you become a mom, you suddenly need the support and encouragement of others who have already experienced parenthood. However, I never could have guessed how much I would come to depend on the support of other people.
My beautiful baby girl was born on August 4, 2005 via emergency C-section. Besides the excitement at delivery, my pregnancy was uneventful. After her birth, we were immediately surrounded by happy visitors, both family and friends. I was thankful that I truly had a village around me to help me raise Lily. I could never have imagined how much my life was about to change.
When I returned to my job, I began to notice that I was not feeling well. I experienced extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. The symptoms increased, so I made an appointment with my doctor. He ran multiple tests and was finally able to offer me a diagnosis on November 21, 2005.
That date will always live in my mind; that was the day I learned I was suffering from cancer. To be specific, I had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos. I found out that I had been exposed to asbestos when I was a child, and that exposure had now turned into pleural mesothelioma.
To make things worse, my prognosis was terrifying. The doctor said that I only had about 15 months to live without treatment. When I heard that, I immediately thought of my loving husband and precious daughter. I was ready to take drastic measures if it meant I would get to spend more of my life with them. Without
hesitation, my husband and I decided we were going to travel to Boston so I could meet with a specialist. I decided to undergo extrapleural pneumenectomy as a treatment for mesothelioma. This surgery took place on February 2, and it required my left lung to be removed.
I still had a long battle to fight after my surgery. I was in the hospital for 18 days after my procedure and then the doctors had me recover for 2 months before I started chemotherapy and radiation. Of course, this was all happening during the time that I was supposed to be enjoying first-time motherhood.
However, there is a positive aspect to my struggle. During this time, my family was surrounded by love and support from countless people. My parents took Lily to live with them in South Dakota while I was in the hospital. They cared for her day and night. When my parents had to work, family friends stepped up to watch Lily.
In the hospital, I loved receiving pictures of my precious daughter. However, these pictures were a sad reminder that I was missing out on many of her “firsts.” Thankfully, I found support from other patients who were facing their own battles. Through my cancer journey, I learned that the support of others is invaluable in times of crisis.
Heather Von St James is a 43-year-old wife and mother. Upon her diagnosis of mesothelioma, she vowed to be a source of hope for other patients who found themselves with the same diagnosis. Now, over 6 years later, her story has been helping people all over the globe. She continues her advocacy and awareness work by blogging, speaking and sharing her message of hope and healing with others. Check out her story at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog