Saturday, February 16, 2013

Guest Post from Heather Von St. James

Today I have a little something different. I have with me today Heather Von St.James. Now I know the name won't ring any literary bells, however she sent me her information, asking me to make a post on my blog regarding her battle with Cancer, to help spread the word of this little known and preventable type of Cancer in particular. Now I know this isn't a book or for that matter a book related post, well there are books and links listed at the bottom. But I feel that the story she gave me about her battle is an important one. One in which we all can spread the word about and possibly save a life.

A little background on the type of Cancer Heather had and her story follows.

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body's internal organs, known as the mesothelium. There are three recognized types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease, accounting for roughly 70% of cases, and occurs in the lining of the lung known as the pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum and pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.
An individual may be at risk to develop mesothelioma if he or she was exposed to asbestos in the workplace or at home. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and the inhalation of asbestos particles. In most cases, mesothelioma symptoms will not appear in an individual exposed to asbestos until many years after the exposure has occurred. Those with a past asbestos exposure history experiencing symptoms should consult a physician with experience in accurately diagnosing mesothelioma. The earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be caught at an early stage. At earlier stages of mesothelioma progression, more treatment options are available and oftentimes a better prognosis is given. 

Why I'm Thankful For My Cancer

I'll never forget the day my daughter Lily was born. As I sat there holding my new child, willing to do whatever I could for her, I looked around at all of the family and friends around me and realized that they too would be willing to do whatever they could for me. It was as if they were holding me just like I was holding my child.  Little did I know at that time just how much I would need their help though.

It wasn't until I went back to work full time that I began to notice sudden changes in my body. I had started to lose 5-7 lbs a week and I constantly felt exhausted. I could have chalked up all of my symptoms to just being a new mom but I was worried enough that I felt the need to see a doctor. To my horror, the diagnosis came back as malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that resides in the lining of the lungs and is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos. Seeking the best mesothelioma doctor we could, my husband and I traveled to Boston where I underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy, a surgery that involved removing my left lung.

While I was in Boston though, Lily was taken to live with my parents back in South Dakota. Luckily, all that loving support I felt when Lily was born was still there to take care of her while I recovered from my ordeal, and my parents were able to rely on the support of people I had once helped many years ago. Children I had babysat as a teenager were now helping to raise my child as adults. People from my church stood up to help my parents while I made new friends who were going through the same thing as me in Boston. I can't say enough how crucial this tree of support was for getting me and my family through the worst of it.

There were difficulties, of course. I had to observe through grainy photos as my daughter learned to eat real food and move on her own. I didn't let my absence in Lily's life affect me in a negative way though, because I knew that all of these sacrifices were being made so that I could eventually come home and watch my daughter fully grow up.

Now that I'm back, my parents still have a deep connection with Lily from their time spent with her that will never disappear. That's the good and the bad of cancer: the connections I've made, and the loving care I've witnessed, are enough for me to be thankful for everything that has happened in my life.


To read more from Heather or to find out more: 

For More information regarding Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma

Amazon Links


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