Monday, February 27, 2012

Meet Heather: Mom, Wife and Mesothelioma Cancer Survivor

How I met Heather? She left a comment in my blog. Although I am a bit uneasy in answering unknown comments through e-mails, It didn't happen with her. I immediately sent a short note, because I have a feeling this would be something different.

How different? Here's a part of her e-mail to me:

Hi. The reason I reached out to you is because of your blog! I myself am a mother to a quirky little six year old, Lily. When Lily was just three and a half months old, I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma; a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it.

After all that, I’m still here six years later and cancer free! I'd like to turn my pain into purpose and become someone that other parents can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like my own. (Read full e-mail here).

Introducing Heather Von St. James, courageous mom, wife and mesothelioma cancer survivor. She got me at hi :-)

I asked Heather if she would like to share more about herself and her incredible journey. I am glad that she consented and so know more about her...

Upon hearing that she's got mesothelioma cancer, her immediate first thought was what about Lily, her baby. 'I knew I was in for a fight and tried to fathom what road was ahead of me. But Lily was, is and always is first and foremost in my thoughts. I didn't panic. I did what every girl who can does; called her parents. My parents were able to step in and help,' said Heather.

Asked about her amazing journey to recovery, Heather explained, 'my life is forever changed. You can't go through something as devastating as this and NOT change. The people I have met through this journey are some of the toughest, most passionate people I have ever met. No matter what cancer you have had. It bonds you instantly to others who had it. They understand like no one else. My life is so much richer for having these incredible people in it.'

Lily is now six years old, she was only three months old when Heather was diagnosed. 'It was always just part of her life. We never sat down with her and had a formal discussion about the cancer. It just IS. She knows I have one lung, she knows I was sick when she was a baby, and knows that I can't do as much because of it. She is careful around my "bad side" as she calls it, so as not to hurt me if she rough houses and tells people she saved my life,' shared Heather.

'A few years ago we bought a small camper,' enthused the cancer survivor mom and wife. 'We love to go up to Northern MN where my husband used to go camping as a child. We camp, swim, hike, sight see. Enjoy the slower pace of life. We read, play games, watch movies and eat, eat, eat.'

Heather is still careful in using the word 'cured'; prefering to call it 'cancer free'. She added, 'and I intend to stay that way. I dream of simple things really. Growing old, watching my little girl grow up, go through those difficult teenage years with her, graduate, go off to college, marry, and grand kids, of course.'

She further explained, 'I guess working toward that dream is a daily thing. Just being present every day and not getting caught up in the ugly stuff. Being an integral part of Lily's every day life. I am involved with her school, and just enjoy every minute.'

We wish Heather and her family a good life filled with love and laughter. As a mom, I salute you for your courage. I admire you for your faith. I will keep you as an inspiration.

Know more about Heather and mesothelioma cancer: here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


A day before, I already told the girls over and over that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I don't want to hear them grumbling that they were not able to prepare for that special day. For us, it has become a tradition to celebrate Valentine's day at home. Actually, it is not as big celebration as in the Philippines.

I know that they would want to see hearts all over the place. Well, I am prepared to indulge them.

Valentine's Day came. I prepared heart-shaped sandwiches for their school snack boxes. They got heart-shaped cake pieces for breakfast.

Lunch time. I cooked pork mixed with potatoes and cabbages. I served it with rice topped with a heart-shaped bell pepper with a side dish of a heart-shaped toast with a heart-shaped cheese slice.

The table decor is filled with hearts, too, which included the heart-shaped perfumed candles and the heart-shaped glass coasters.

For dessert, the kids wanted a heart-shaped scoop of ice cream; which of course, is impossible. At least, they loved the dessert, if not it's shape.

Well, my girls loved the heart-filled lunch. My husband loved that I have a sekt ready. The girls got their kiddie wine while I poured sekt.

My Valentine gifts? The usual :-D

A huge orchid plant from my husband, a mini orchid plant from MC and an unusual no-pot 'real' plant from IC who said, 'Mama, you need to water that plant because I forgot to do it yesterday!!).

But the hearts didn't end there. At night, I discovered a love letter filled with hearts from IC tucked under my pillow, for a heart-filled sweet dreams :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

MC Deals with a Bully

Today, MC handled a bully.

It seemed that she's been bullied by a certain girl for a long, long time now.

But it was only today that she told us about it.

Casually she said, 'you know what mama, a certain classmate always tell me that I am dumb. That I am stupid. And that is why I am not going in the same high school as she next year, because I am stupid.'

I asked her what her response was. She said nothing. She simply ignores the girl despite the fact that girl comes up to her saying the same words over and over again; almost everyday.

I praised her for just ignoring the girl. MC said she knows she is not stupid. That is why she just ignores the girl.

But apparently, MC decided to tell us today about being bullied because she had had enough.

She confronted the girl who calls her stupid and told her, 'you know what, if you continue being like that, you would loose all your friends. In fact, I know that someone just pretends she likes you because she wants to avoid all your tears, all your dramas.'

Well, that seemed to shock the girl. She stopped teasing and making fun of MC.

I applaud MC for effectively dealing with a bully; for effectively dealing with a bully in a diplomatic way. You go my girl!

P.S. Here's another MC's diplomacy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Blackberry Shake

Good thing I have enough in our freezer, those blackberries from our garden.

Freshly picked, I placed them in containers and shove them in the freezer drawers. Intended for the cold, winter days. Although it is only the start of autumn, the girls already miss the availability of fresh fruits in the garden.

Now those cherry, apricot, and apple trees are just monkey bars. Those thorny blackberry shrubs just something to avoid. Those strawberry patches just leaves.

No more fresh fruits ready for picking, just some apples; but the girls know about our 'storage'. After all, they helped me pick, wash and package them for the freezer.

Now the girls want a fruit shake. And I am happy to oblige. They have enough choices: greengage, blackberries, yellow plums (mirabelle), and plums.

They settled for the blackberry.

Ingredients for a blackberry shake: frozen blueberry, some milk, a spoonful of sugar, and a small packet of vanilla extract.

Preparation: Let the frozen blackberries thaw a little; then place in a mixer, add the rest of the ingredients. Mix.

Serve immediately.