Friday, January 6, 2012

A Life of Purpose – Inspiring Guest Post from Cancer Survivor and Real Mom, Heather Von St. James

Written by Guest Blogger Heather Von St. James

When you learn you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, everything changes. Most people never expect to receive such a diagnosis, especially at the age of 36 and having just given birth 3 ½ months prior of your first child.

On Nov. 21, 2005, I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma

There is nothing worse than hearing “You Have Cancer” during what it is perhaps supposed to be one of the best times of your life. 

Following my diagnosis, I basically felt as though I had two options: give up or curse God and wallow in self-pity screaming “Why Me God!?”

I also had another option: Face the cancer head on.

And that’s what I did. 

So, I decided to toss on those rose-colored glasses and do what any new mother would do: Fight with everything she had so she can watch her little girl grow up. Unfortunately, cancer is like a double-edged sword and anyone else who has been through it will say the same thing. 

While it can be the most devastating news you’ve ever heard, there are still some positives that come out of it as well. My life has now changed for the better because of having gone through cancer. This is simply because I decided I wasn’t going to be one of the victims. Instead, I chose to look at a terrible situation in a different light. It helped take the fear away and I vowed I would help others who were diagnosed with it as well. For whatever the reason, I decided to find the positives of the situation and was sent to see the world’s leading specialist for the disease. The doctor gave me hope.

I learned I was going to have my tumor removed on Groundhogs Day 2006. With that said, I decided to name my tumor Punxatawny Phil and renamed Groundhogs Day, Lungleavin Day. 

Today, we have a party every February and celebrate Lungleavin Day. 

Had it not been for my cancer diagnosis, I would’ve never gotten to know some of the amazing people I’ve met. They are among the strongest and toughest I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. These people are committed to raising awareness about the disease, which affects so many. From wives to husbands to sons and daughters; all of us know someone who has been affected by cancer is some way, shape or form.

Now my life is filled with more purpose than it has ever been and with that, I want to continue to do what I can to bring the same hope I felt to others.

Heather Von St. James is a guest blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.