I was recently contacted by Heather and asked if I would share her story with my audience. After hearing what she and her family had gone through, I was honored to share her fight against Cancer. The battle she overcame is one that not only my Southern California audience would enjoy; but others could appreciate, learn from, and spread the awareness.
I was a new mom when I found out I had pleural malignant mesothelioma. My husband Cameron and I were in shock when our doctor gave us this life changing news. One of the immediate thoughts that ran through my mind was,“What would happen to our daughter?” Lily, my sweet baby girl, was just three and a half months old when I was told about my diagnosis. Up until this point, our lives had been seemingly perfect, and we were vastly enjoying being parents to our new baby girl.
The seven years prior, Cameron and I were married were in no real hurry to have children, and I was 35 when we started trying to get pregnant. After three months and three pregnancy tests, we received confirmation – we were pregnant! It happened a lot sooner than what we thought! We had an amazing time during my pregnancy and I am so grateful that it went exceptionally well for me. I could easily have gone through pregnancy again and again because it was so smooth!
I have to smile now when I look back at how quickly I moved into the “Mom role.” As soon as I learned I was pregnant, I started rubbing my belly and imagining my life with my husband and our new baby. I wanted to be the very best mom possible for our daughter and I was having a great time anticipating her birth. When Lily was born, the world seemed to be at our feet. There was so much we wanted to do with Lily and I was looking forward to our family’s future!
When the news came that I had mesothelioma, Cameron and I decided to follow the doctor’s advice and take the most drastic treatment available. This meant flying to Boston and undergoing a serious surgery called an extrapleural pnuemonectomy. During this procedure the doctors removed my left lung and the lining of my heart and diaphragm. While it was not easy to make this decision, I knew in my heart that I would do whatever it took to get healthy and to continue being Lily’s mom. I kept her in my mind at all times as I went through the surgery, the aftercare treatments, and then during my recovery time at my parents’ in South Dakota.
Lily loves to tell people how she saved my life. While people are often used to children saying cute things, I can honestly say that Lily is speaking true words! She is 7 years old now and I am eternally grateful for every minute I get to spend with her and Cameron. We have a future we are looking forward to and I enjoy getting to do my best to be a great mom to my daughter! My love for my family gave me the strength necessary to do whatever was required to fight to save my life. Now, we feel like we have the whole world at our feet again!
Written by: Heather Von St James