This is the first time in almost 2 years that I accept a guest blog post. Heather reached out to me last week and told me a little about her story. Now, I know that most of you visit this blog looking for nursery decor and party inspiration...but unfortunately, we can't forget the many lives - including mine - that have been touched by cancer. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.
With this guest post, I want to share with you the amazing story of a young lady who was diagnosed with mesothelioma at age 36, only 3 months after giving birth to her precious little girl...
I want to thank Heather for reaching out to me, I would do anything in my power to help spread awareness for cancer.
Here is her story:
How I Coped With a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
by Heather Von St. James
No one wants to hear those three little words that can spread fear throughout your whole body.
”You have cancer…”
These three words can cripple the strongest person and come at a time when things should be at their best. When I heard the news that I had pleural mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure, I had just given birth three and one-half month prior.
When I tell people that I have mesothelioma, they usually ask, “ Isn't asbestos banned?” or “Where were you exposed?” The answer to the first question is an unfortunate, “no.” Asbestos is not banned. The answer to the second question is “Through secondary exposure.”
Asbestos was on my father’s work clothes. He worked in construction, and he came into contact with asbestos while sanding, muddling and drywall taping. The dust from sanding contained asbestos. It was on his clothes, on his jacket and in his car. This white dust seemed innocent but was filled with asbestos fibers.
It was rare to be diagnosed at the age of 36. The typical mesothelioma patient is an older male who has worked in trades such as plumbing and heating, or they worked as electricians, mechanics. Many military members were also exposed to asbestos. Now, the wives also suffer. Most wives came into contact with asbestos after doing their husband’s laundry. They shook out the dirty clothes before putting them in the washer, and unfortunately, the clothes were filled with asbestos. Even women who worked in schools as secretaries were exposed to asbestos.
|photo via Heather Von St. James|
The next generation of mesothelioma sufferers is being diagnosed. The trend of young people being diagnosed with mesothelioma is alarming. Children who loved and wanted to be near their dads were exposed. They were exposed when they jumped into their father’s arms. Children were exposed when they hugged their father or put on their father’s coat to go feed the rabbits.
After being involved in the mesothelioma community, I got to know many young patients. These men and women are in their late twenties and early thirties. Young men and women were forced to concentrate on overcoming mesothelioma rather than getting married, having babies and getting new jobs.
There is some good news. Much advancement in the treatment of mesothelioma helps more and more people to survive. People young and old are managing to survive.
Hearing you have cancer is devastating, but I continue to maintain optimism and hope and so do others do who have mesothelioma. Those of us that have mesothelioma have tried to come together as a community. In our community, we share our experiences, and we support each other. We cry when things don’t our way, and we celebrate victories.
|photo via Heather Von St. James|
So, why do I do what I do? Why do I continue to share my story? I do it to bring awareness to others who may be suffering. Without awareness, nothing will change. If by sharing my story, I can help a newly diagnosed person or help someone living in fear with mesothelioma, I feel I am doing the right thing.
**** no compensation was received for this post ****