Heather Von St. James~what she wants you to know.

Heather Von St. James~~ Her Story.

 

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In 2005, at the age of 36, and only three months after giving birth to a beautiful daughter Lily Rose, Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Upon learning of this life-altering diagnosis, Heather, together with her husband Cameron, embarked upon a search to find the best mesothelioma treatment care available. Their search eventually led them to Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women’s hospital.

Dr. Sugarbaker recommended a relatively new surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy, a groundbreaking treatment option offered through the International Mesothelioma Program. Although there were some risks associated with the procedure, it also carried promise for the best possible outcome. Heather, with full support from her husband and family, agreed to have the surgery.

It is happy to report that Heather beat the odds 8 years ago when she was given only 15 months to live. After the life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, she is now thriving more than ever! Because of her experience, Heather has asked me to help her spread awareness about mesothelioma – a cancer caused only by asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is an entirely preventable cancer and this is why she feels passionate about raising awareness and potentially save lives.

Thus, I have agreed and dedicated this Blog Post to Heather Von St. James and to sharing some of the eye-opening facts about this disease.

An individual may be at risk to develop mesothelioma if he or she was exposed to asbestos in the workplace or at home. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and the inhalation of asbestos particles. In most cases, the symptoms will not appear in an individual exposed to asbestos until many years after the exposure has occurred. Those with a past asbestos exposure history experiencing symptoms should consult a physician with experience in accurately diagnosing mesothelioma. The earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be caught at an early stage. The earlier, the better!

The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance has dedicated a significant amount of time in making the web page: http://mesothelioma.com/   the best resource for patients, families, and individuals wanting to learn more about the disease. Their hope is that we can educate more people about this devastating disease and raise more awareness than ever!

I encourage you to share this blog with anyone who you know that could potentially be at risk; let’s get the word out!!

Pink Shirts and Blue Caps~~

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As far as my eye could see, stretched out in every direction, I saw a sea of “pink”!  Pink shirts, hats, shoes, & even tutu’s!  Young children with the imprint of their pillows still showing on their faces, folks with dogs covered in pink bows, and senior citizens who were being brought to the starting gate in wheelchairs. Large and small company’s alike gathered with their co-workers after a long week of work on a day that could have been spent sleeping in, or some other rest-filled choice.

Why would they come?

I arrived on the scene at 6:30 in the morning only to find that there were volunteers already preparing to serve and care for all who would be attending. Blurry eyed individuals holding cups of Starbucks coffee as they kindly smiled at one another with anticipation for the morning ahead!

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Why would they come?

There are many fantastic fundraisers that take place every year in our town; they are well attended every time. 5k’s for Diabetes, ALS, and as in this case Breast Cancer. We could all simply write a check to raise the finances. But why do we come?

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I believe there are many reasons we volunteer to be a part of these events.

1. Relationships: We have people we love and some we have lost to these diseases. These events help us heal, help us remember, and help us do something tangible that we feel gives honor to those who have suffered bravely. 80% of the runners had a pink paper attached to their running numbers, this sheet was filled with the names of Friends and loved ones! It was incredibly moving to read the names and to think about the impact those lives had on each runner!

2. Legacy: We all want to be a part of a passionate group of people who want to make a difference in the world. It is incredibly inspiring to stand shoulder to shoulder with others who want to have impact on key issues and diseases in our world. It helps us to focus on the “bigger picture” and allows us time to get our eyes off our own challenges. It helps give us perspective.

3.  We DO want to raise finances for on-going research. We do hope that the next generation will suffer less as we find answers!!

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Right before our run began, the event creator (a breast cancer survivor) asked all who were also Cancer survivors and wearing the Blue caps to remain standing.  She asked that the rest of us would bend a knee to the ground to honor our brave sisters. It was very emotional to look around at the multitude of precious faces who had faced the uncertainty of what Cancer might mean for them; for their families.

We all have opportunities to be a part of those facing challenges. The events, create a collective opportunity and each day we have the opportunity to step out of our busy life and “volunteer” to stand with those in challenge.  We can do it out of relationship, for legacy, as well as help to create change!

Just do it!! 🙂 Your life will be richer for it!!

The “C” Word~

My blog has been a place where I’ve openly shared experiences, challenges, and thoughts about life, leadership, family, and many other lifestyle topics.  I’ve often said to folks “if you want to know what’s been going on in my life just read my blog.” However, this past summer I’ve help something tightly, carefully, in order to give the necessary privacy that was needed.

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I have learned that the words “CANCER FREE” are the GREATEST words in the world!

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Over the past 4 months my father was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. My father responded with great hope and willingness to do what was necessary to partner with the doctors facing this challenge head on. My father is vibrant and healthy again today and our entire family is greatly relieved.

The “C Word” caused great turmoil in my soul as I worried, fretted, prayed, and then prayed some more for my precious father. Even though he was a real trooper it was rough to see him so vulnerable to the medical steps he needed to follow and to those administering them. To the medical professionals he was just another patient, but to his family he is our hero, our friend, our encourager, our Father!!! There were numerous times that I wanted to storm into the offices and make that very declaration!

One hour ago I learned of a dear friend who lost her battle with Cancer. Tami had fought a valiant fight. She was loved and will be deeply missed. I have lost many friends to the “C word”, as have thousands of people around the world. Thus, I must express how deeply grateful I am for my fathers health and healing. I am blessed for every moment I get to share with him. My appreciation for my time with him has heightened during these past few months!

I have no exquisite thoughts or answers for those facing cancer in themselves or a loved one, it’s a very personal challenge and people face it in their own ways. BUT~ I do realize more and more the value of time with those we love, so on that thought I must say one thing.  If you have the opportunity to spend time with those you love; simply make it a priority today!

The most important thing in life is making time for the people that matter, for the people you care about and that care about you. The hard fact is – when it comes down to it – people and relationships really are the most important things we have in life. Your life wouldn’t be “quality filled” if the people you loved weren’t a part of it…. from the family and friends we see on a regular basis – to the people who live far away, or live on different schedules…. its important to make time for all of them.

🙂   🙂   🙂