Monday, April 30, 2012

~Guest Speaker~

Good Monday friends! Hope everyone is having a beautiful day. I am honored to have Heather Von St James here today on my blog to share her story and courageous battle...

It Takes A Village

People often say that it takes a village to raise a child, and after Lily was born I realized what that really meant.  After an uncomplicated pregnancy, my daughter was born August 4, 2005.  After she was born, our family and friends came to meet the new baby and wish us well.  Things were going so well that none of us could have imagined what would happen next.  

About a month after I returned to my full-time job, I started feeling ill.  I was breathless, tired and I had no energy.  Of course, I blamed this on motherhood, but I scheduled an appointment with my doctor.  He scheduled tests, and we found out the cause of my poor health.  

When Lily was just over 3 months old, I was received a diagnosis that would change our lives forever.  The doctor found that I had a cancer in the lining of my lung called malignant pleural mesothelioma.  The primary cause is exposure to asbestos, and I had unknowingly been exposed during childhood.  

When the doctor said I have about 15 months left if my cancer was left untreated, my first thought was about Lily.  I didn't want my husband to have to raise her alone, so I knew we had to fight the cancer.  In February, my husband and I flew to Boston for a procedure called an extrapleural pneumenectomy.  The doctors removed my left lung, and I spend 18 days in the hospital recovering.  Two months later, I started chemotherapy and radiation.  

We could have never gone to Boston for the treatment of mesothelioma, and wouldn’t have had time to recover without the prayers, support and love from our village.  People from all aspects of our lives came together to help us and support us during this difficult time.  There were people we thought we could rely on that ran as fast as they could to get away from us.  But other people, people we never expected to help us, that did help.  Having cancer helped me see who our true friends were and who was there for us.

While we were in Boston for the procedure and recovery, my parents raised Lily.  They had their own village that helped them with daily care for her and babysat so they could continue working.  While we were in Boston, we met amazing people who were traveling the same path we were.  They provided support for us every day and helped us get through this difficult time.

Back home in South Dakota, Lily was learning to eat solid foods, roll and scoot.  I got to watch her grow through grainy pictures my mom emailed and my husband printed for me.  My nurse and I held back our tears with each new photo.  It broke my heart to be away from her, but she was the reason I was there fighting the cancer.  I knew she was in the best care possible while I recovered.  Lilly and her grandparents now have an amazing bond despite the many miles between them.

We aren't promised anything in life.  Our family knows how fragile life can be, and we've made the most of what has been dealt to us.  Being diagnosed with cancer is never a good thing, but good things can come from it.  I am thankful for the lessons I've learned since my diagnosis.  

Thank you so much Heather for sharing your story and I pray God continues to heal you!

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