My Village and Its Guiding Light – Guest Post

 This is a guest post from Heather Von St James . When I read her story and she offered to share it, I knew you would all be interested and inspired. 
I am sure you have heard the saying, “It takes a village”. You hear it mostly when having a child and it is a saying that I truly came to believe in. My daughter was born August 4, 2005 with just once complication at the end, I had to have an emergency c-section. Other than that, everything was great! At once we were surrounded by our “village”. My parents, my husband’s family and many, many friends came by to welcome our new arrival named Lily, and to wish us well. We were at the happiest point in our lives and nothing could prepare us for the dark storm clouds ahead.

After returning to work, within a month I started feeling tired, breathless and had no energy. I visited my doctor and after a myriad of tests we found the culprit. On November 21, 2005 I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lung normally caused by exposure to asbestos. I had unknowingly been exposed as a child and now some 30 years later, I have mesothelioma and it has only been three and a half months since the birth of my precious Lily.

My first thoughts were not about me but instead my baby. I was told I would have just 15 months to live if I did nothing. I thought of Lily, looked at my husband and thought about them alone, without me, and I knew we had to do whatever it would take to save my life. My husband and I flew to Boston and early February 2006 I underwent a surgery called extrapleural pneumenectomy which required the removal of my left lung. I spent 18 days recovering in the hospital, another two months of recovery before I started chemotherapy, and then radiation, all while being a new mom for the first time.

We could not have prevailed if our village did not surround us with love, support and prayers. Cancer can indeed weed out those who will be there for you and those that won’t, or just can’t face it head on. Lily lived with my parents while my husband and I were in Boston. They received help from their own little village of angels. Girls that I used to babysit years ago, church members and others helped my parents with babysitting and support as both of my parents work full-time. We developed our own village in Boston with folks going through the same thing as us. Yes, I had to watch Lily grow through pictures, but she was the main reason I was in Boston fighting for my life. I was fighting to survive for her.

We try as a family to really embrace life, for we all know how fragile it can be. My favorite quote says, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”
Embrace all that life throws at you, with the bad a lot of good can come also. For all of the good that came after my dire diagnosis, I am thankful and grateful.

Do click her badge and visit her great blog and continue to be THAT village!

Heather Von St. James - Mesothelioma Survivor Blog

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