My transition from cluttered to simple living.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mesothelioma (a guest post)

Does that title strike a note of fear in your heart?  Do you even know what Mesothelioma is?  If you would like to know, check out the following link

I know what Mesothelioma is.  10 years ago, I lost a very dear friend to this disease.  Cameron was an artist, and the son of a dear friend.  He had so much talent....  He was such a lovely soul.  He should be with us now.

I have always believed that Mesothelioma is fatal.  Last week I met a gal who beat the odds.  Today I am including a guest post, authored by Heather.

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 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, Lunleavin 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 hope.  

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.

Heather Von St James is a mesothelioma survivor and a guest blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Her story is one of hope and inspiration and she hopes to spread her message to anyone who may be going through similar situations to her own.
Check out Heather’s story on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.


  1. what an awesome attitude your guest writer has, Wendy. Wouldn't it be great if more people felt this positive cancer or no.

    So sorry to hear about your friend's loss of her son. I can't imagine the pain one would have to work through with the death of a child.

  2. We are sorry to hear about your friend’s death and, indeed, mesothelioma usually is fatal. That said, we also thank you for sharing the tremendously inspiring post about one person’s courageous recovery from mesothelioma. Obviously, very few people diagnosed with this cancer are as fortunate as Heather, but her story can most certainly provide some very real hope to countless readers who may be searching for a personal account of overcoming this disease.

  3. I really appreciate that Heather chose this blog to tell her story. It is an amazing story, and she, an amazing girl!