Friday, July 19, 2013

Become Aware

So a few weeks ago, I had the wonderful pleasure of getting into contact with a wonderful woman who is an inspiration to any new mother. Her name is Heather Von St James. This is her story.

Fighting for My Life and for My Family

My daughter Lily is 7 years old and she loves telling people that she saved my life every time someone mentions my fight with cancer.  Lily was just three and a half months old when I was diagnosed with pleural malignant mesothelioma. This was shocking news for my husband, Cameron, and I.  While some people think Lily is exaggerating about saving my life, I know how true her words really are!  

I had a lovely pregnancy, even though we waited until I was 35 to start trying.  Cameron and I had spent 7 years simply enjoying marriage before we started trying to have a child.  To our sheer amazement, it only took us three brief months to get pregnant!  I was excited and anxious to have our baby.  A little part of me was somewhat concerned whether or not it would be difficult for me to be pregnant and to have a baby at 35 years old.  In spite of all my concerns, my pregnancy could not have been more marvelous!

I enjoyed every moment of being pregnant and I often would sit and fantasize about what type of mom I would be.  I wanted to be a cool mom, a loving mom, a fun mom…there were so many possibilities! More important than anything else, I wanted to be a great mom to our daughter and I was more than ready to tackle this challenge! Cameron and I felt like this was the most blissful season of our lives as we anxiously awaited the arrival of our daughter.  We were ready to add to our family and at this point, she could not arrive soon enough!

Lily was born through C-section after the doctor discovered she was in a breech position.  I did my best to make light of the situation, and when she finally was born, Cameron and I could not have been happier!  We instantly fell in love with our daughter and the future looked amazing and bright!

It was only three and a half months after Lily’s birth that I finally went to the doctor because I had not been feeling like my normal self.  We received the staggering news that I had pleural mesothelioma.  My doctor stressed how urgent it was that I began treatment as soon as possible.  He told us that if I did not immediately get the best care possible, I would only have a little more than a year to live.

I went to Boston for a major surgery that removed my left lung and the lining of my heart and diaphragm.  This was followed up with 18 days of recovery in the hospital, and two more weeks in an outpatient facility. My parents were a huge help taking care of Lily while Cameron and I were in Boston. After a month on the east coast, Cameron and I reunited with Lily at my parent’s house in South Dakota. We stayed with them for two months while I recuperated further, and then we went home to Minnesota. There I began chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

A month apart from my baby girl was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make but I knew it was a necessity. I needed to be there for Lily and Cameron in the long-term. Lily was correct when she said she saved my life, I fought for my life so I could see her grow up. I can say confidently that without her I would not be here today.

If you'd like to hear more of her story or even just more about the condition feel free to visit here. Hopefully, you've been inspired by her story and made more aware of this dreadful condition.

Thanks for reading about this serious post! Check back again soon to here about how our move went :)