Today I would like to introduce you to a new friend: Heather Von St. James. I would love for you to read her story and click over to her site if you would like to read further!
Battling Cancer and Finding Strength
Before my cancer diagnosis, I was like many new mothers. All that mattered to me was the love and protection I provided my daughter. When the doctor told me about my diagnosis with malignant pleural mesothelioma, my entire life was put on hold as I fought to survive and see my daughter grow up.
When my husband Cameron and I decided to have our daughter, I was 35 years old. We had waited seven years after we got married to have our first child. As my pregnancy progressed, I experienced many of the feelings that other mothers talk about. I thought about the type of mother I would be and wondered what the daughter growing inside my belly would be like. The entire pregnancy was a breeze and the first sign of any issue was the birth. My daughter Lily was breech so the doctors performed an emergency C-section. When I finally held her, she was the most beautiful baby in the world. At no point in the past had I ever experienced that overwhelming sense of love and I just wanted to protect my daughter from any harm.
Cameron and I were able to enjoy being parents for three and a half months before disaster struck. My doctor told us that I had malignantpleural mesothelioma. I could not move or think as I tried to grasp what that meant. Cameron took over for me as I sat in fear and decided on a treatment option in Boston. It involved more traveling, but meant I would be operated on by one of the top specialists in mesothelioma in the world.
The treatment process was grueling. At the hospital, they removed my left lung, and parts of the lining from my heart and a diaphragm. Afterward, I had to stay in Boston for 18 days before I could leave the hospital. From there I stayed at an outpatient facility for two weeks before recuperating at my parent’s home for two more months. Because of the treatment, I missed out on a crucial month of my daughter’s life. This is one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but I had to if I did not want to miss out on the rest of her life.
Throughout the stress, I told myself that I had to do it. Mesothelioma kills 95 percent of people who are diagnosed. I could not be one of those people. I had to live to see my daughter grow up and to raise her with my husband. Thanks to my daughter, I found the will to fight cancer. Once the recovery at my parents ended, I had to endure the chemotherapy and radiation that followed. My daughter saved my life and is the reason I am here today. When she tells people that she saved my life, Lily could not be more right.