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.