Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guest Post - Mesothelioma

Seeing the Good in the Bad

My whole life I have always been optimistic, viewing the glass as half full and
seeing the bright side of things. This characteristic has never benefited me more
than when I heard the word most people fear: cancer.

On November 21, 2005, I received my cancer diagnosis of malignant pleural
mesothelioma, at the young age of 36 and just 3.5 months after my one and only
child was born. You never expect that kind of diagnosis, especially not during
what is supposed to be the “prime” of your life, but here was me hearing the
most dreaded words. After the information sank in, I had two choices: to give up
and wallow in my own self-pity or face the illness with strength. Being the
optimist I am, I chose the second option. I stood tall and did what any new
mother would do: fight for her life to see her little girl grow up.

Cancer really is a two-headed monster and majority of people who have
experienced it will agree. It is of course one of the worst possible things that can
happen, but on the other a good thing. My life has changed ultimately for the
better due to it. I chose to see the positives of a terrible situation, perhaps to
eliminate the fear, maybe because I was determined to help other people with
the same diagnosis, or because I wanted to provide hope because that is often
the first thing people lose when becoming diagnosed with mesothelioma. No
matter the reason, I opted to find the good.

I was referred to one of the world’s leading mesothelioma doctors, who had the
ability to provide me with the hope to beat this condition! After being scheduled
to have my tumor removed on Groundhog’s Day 2006, I gave my tumor the
nickname of Punxsutawney Phil. And my family and I renamed the day,
Lungleavin Day since it was the day my lung was removed from my body. Every
year during the first weekend of February, we throw a party to celebrate this
Lungleavin Day. It is a time to celebrate life, honor the victory over fear, and
praising the good that comes from a dreadful situation. It is also a celebration of

If it weren’t for being diagnosed with this cancer, I would not have met so many
of the great people that I now know. These people are the most remarkable,
strongest, passionate, and tough individuals I have ever had the pleasure to
meet. These people are other mesothelioma fighters who are determined to
increase the knowledge of this condition, which has little awareness besides
commercials on daytime television. I now call all people affected by the disease
including wives, husbands, sons, and daughters, my friend. If it were not for my
very own battle with cancer, I would not know these great people. My life is now
filled with much more purpose and I want to keep up the efforts to provide hope
to those in need of it.

Guest post written by Heather Von St James

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