Motherhood and Beyond

To be a mom is the most rewarding job in the whole world. But it can also be the most difficult. Motherhood and Beyond is peeping into the world of being a mom, but at the same time a wife, a friend and much more. Life doesn't always go easy and some may not know it now, but there is nothing more precious than life. So I welcome you to join us. Follow in our daily routines, our special activities and just enjoy the ride!! TO MOTHERHOOD AND BEYOND!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Guest Blogger June 2012 HEATHER VON ST JAMES

Learning to Be Thankful in the Face of Mesothelioma

Have you heard the saying, “It takes a village?”  I heard it so much during my pregnancy, but I never realized just how significant this phrase would become in my life.  My daughter was born August 4, 2005.  The pregnancy was pretty uneventful, although she was delivered by emergency C-section.  My village was immediately surrounding us in congratulations.  

A C-section recovery can be challenging, and when I returned to work, I continued to feel fatigued.  I began to experience breathlessness, as well, and I made an appointment with my doctor to find out if something was wrong.  Unfortunately, it was.  My diagnosis was terrifying.  Malignant pleural mesothelioma, often caused by asbestos exposure, was at the root of my tiredness and breathlessness.

This cancer is attributed to asbestos exposure, something I unknowingly experienced in childhood.  As an adult, this nightmare was overwhelming.  I couldn’t bear the thought of Lily and my husband having to go on without me, and the grim prognosis gave me 15 months to live if I did nothing.  We opted for the most extreme treatment for possible, the removal of my left lung and all of the surrounding tissue.

The surgery took place February 2, 2006, in Boston under the care of one of the best mesothelioma doctors available.  My 18-day hospital stay was followed by a two-month recovery period.  After that, I went through chemotherapy and radiation.  The emotional roller coaster was trying, but Lily was in good hands.  My parents and their own village made sure of that.

While I was in the hospital, my parents took care of my daughter.  In my absence, she learned to eat and to scoot around.  Sometimes my parents needed caregivers to fill in so they could go to work.  It’s amazing how many people provided their assistance and support.  Church friends were ready to fill in as needed.  Children I once babysat were now available as grownups to care for my daughter.  I received pictures, often grainy photocopies, that allowed me to see the things my Lily was experiencing.  Nurses admired, struggling not to cry over the challenges I faced.  My parents’ bond with Lily is close, thanks to their time of caring for her.  While I was in Boston, she was in South Dakota, experiencing a wonderful village.

As a family, we’ve been through a lot.  It hasn’t been easy, but that was never promised.  Knowing how fragile life is, we embrace it more fully now.  I have a favorite quote, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”  Embrace what you face in life, knowing that things like cancer can produce a lot of good in the midst of difficulty.  I am thankful for the good in the midst of my storm.

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 more of her story at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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