Heather Von St. James: Cancer Survivor
I was recently contacted by Heather because she wanted to share her story with other moms. Heather was a seemingly healthy new mom to a beautiful 3 month old little girl when she got her diagnosis of Mesothelioma; a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it. It is caused by asbestos exposure, which she was unknowingly exposed to from her dads work clothes when she was 9 years old. Following is her story. Thanks so much for sharing, Heather!
What I Wasn’t Expecting As a New Mom
Becoming a mom is a prospect that comes with a multitude of challenges, and I thought that I had them all figured out by the time I gave birth to my daughter, Lily. I had done my research and intended to give her everything she needed for a healthy, balanced childhood. It never occurred to me that I could have to face a very personal battle just weeks after she was born, but life can surprise you that way. I had barely adjusted to motherhood when I received the devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma.
At first, I could barely think straight, especially when the doctor told me that I might only have fifteen months left. My panic soon turned to resolve, though, and I decided that I needed to do whatever I could to make sure I would be there to experience Lily’s childhood with her. That meant submitting to treatment over a thousand miles away and spending a month of Lily’s infancy on the other side of the country. It hurt me to miss so much of this vital time, but I knew it was what I needed to do in order to give myself the best shot at survival.
My parents were a huge help to me during this time by taking care of Lily as best they could while I was undergoing surgery and treatments in Boston. Though she couldn’t be with her mother just then, Lily developed a deep bond with her grandparents. Meanwhile, my husband, Cam, stood by me as I faced all of the stress and fear that fighting this disease entails. I became so much more deeply appreciative of the wonderful man that he is, during this period. I don’t know how I could have gotten through it without him.
In addition to my parents and Cam, so many other people helped us during the time when mesothelioma posed its most significant threat to me. I walked away from the experience with a far greater understanding of how much I am loved and how much I need to cherish every beautiful moment that I am given. Once I was able to return home and felt good enough to play with Lily, we went on small outings and just enjoyed simple pleasures together. Now, none of us will ever take those ordinary pleasures for granted again.
You can read more and follow along with Heather here!
As a newer mom myself, it really helps to open my eyes and realize that I can’t take the small things for granted. We never know what life will throw at us and I need to stop and breathe more often, less worrying about the small things and more quality time spent with my boys!