Imagine you are beginning a new life… A new life with the love of your life, a new life with your new-born baby girl. Your dreams are stretched out before. Then, in one moment, life as you know it comes crashing down around you. The dreams you have been dreaming now go by the wayside because you now have to fight for each single day.
This, my friends, is what happened for Cameron and Heather Von St. James.
Just three months and half months after the birth of her first child, Lily Rose, Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Heather was just 36 years old when faced with the news that she had only 15 short months to live.
I’m sure many of you have heard of Mesothelioma but do you know exactly what it is? Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. Malignant mesothelioma is the most serious of all asbestos-related diseases. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, but treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy have helped to improve the typical mesothelioma prognosis. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lung’s protective lining in the chest cavity represents about three-quarters of all mesothelioma incidence. (Read more: http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma)
There are two ways to handle this news… this devastating news…give up or fight. Which would you do?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 ESV.
Heather knew that God had plans for her life and she wanted all that He wanted for her and her future. Heather chose to fight for her dreams, to fight for her future, to fight for the chance to watch her daughter Lily Rose, grow, with Cameron right beside her.
Their determination and refusal to compromise on doctors or treatments led them to Boston where Heather received radical surgery to remove her left lung by the esteemed mesothelioma surgeon, David Sugarbaker along with subsequent chemotherapy.
That was seven years ago, and Heather continues to thrive. Heather proudly claims the title of mesothelioma cancer survivor. She gratefully and passionately embraces each day of the new life she has been given by being a wife to Cameron, and mother to Lily Rose.
Heather and Cameron are also passionate about bringing awareness of mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure to others. Spreading their message of hope and inspiration to all those affected by mesothelioma. Heather shares her own personal holiday, LungLeavin’Day, the day that Heather had surgery to remove her left lung. LungLeavin’ Day started out as a personal celebration in the beginning of February between Heather and her husband Cameron to recognize each year Heather remained cancer-free, but has now turned into a celebration of life and overcoming fears with many family members, friends and cancer survivors.
LungLeavin’ Day is not just for cancer survivors though, it is a day for anyone who desires to take control of their lives and throw their fears to the fire. Each year, Heather and Cameron gather around a fire in their backyard with their friends and family. They all write their biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. They celebrate for those who are no longer with them, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, they celebrate life!
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
On the 7th year, Heather and Cameron decided it was time to give back to the community. They begin using LungLeavin’ Day as fundraiser for the 3 organizations that have made such a difference in their lives. All of the money raised is split 3-ways for the 3 organizations that have made such a difference in their lives. The International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.