Last week, Heather Von St. James asked me to share her story on my blog and help build hope and awareness for her campaign.
At the age of thirty-six, Heather’s life was an idyllic one. Three months earlier, she had given birth to a beautiful daughter, Lily Rose. Heather did not expect to receive a life-altering diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma at a routine checkup.
What is pleural mesothelioma?
It is a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelioma, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. Find out more information here.
Heather’s doctor informed her she had only fifteen months to live.
After the initial shock subsided, Heather and her husband Cameron embarked upon a search to find the best mesothelioma treatment care available. Their search led them to the Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women’s hospital. Dr. Sugarbaker recommended a new surgical procedure that had several risks but also carried the promise for the best outcome. With the support of her husband and family, Heather agreed to have the surgery.
Today, Heather is a ten-year mesothelioma cancer survivor with a mission. Determined to provided hope and inspiration to mesothelioma patients, Heather shares her story as keynote speaker at conferences and through social media forums. And she celebrates Lung Leaving Day.
What is Lung Leaving Day?
Heather and her sister decided to commemorate her journey with a special ceremony. Each year, on February 2nd, the two sisters encourage people around the world to write their biggest fears on a plate and smash the plate into a fire. A beautiful and powerful symbol of taking control and overcoming your fears.
Heather’s journey reminded me of the following poem by Sri Chinmoy…
Knows no fear.
Hope dares to blossom
Even inside the abysmal abyss.
Hope secretly feeds
Where to find Heather…