People always tell me that I see the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty. I realize now that they’re right. Never have my rose-colored glasses and natural sense of optimism served me better than when I was diagnosed with a deadly cancer at the age of 36, just 3 1/2 months after the birth of my one and only child.
On Nov 21, 2005, I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. No one ever expects a cancer diagnosis, much less during what is supposed to be the most joyous time of their life, but there I was, hearing those three words: “You have cancer”. These words presented me with a choice: I could give up, curse God and wallow in self-pity, or face this diagnosis head on. I chose the second option. I put on those rose-colored glasses and did what any new mom would do: fight for her life to raise her little girl.
I found that cancer is a true double-edged sword, as most people who have gone through it will likely agree. Although on the one hand it may seem like the worst thing that can happen, I found that with optimism and acceptance, it could be transformed into a positive event. Now, looking back, I can say that my life is forever changed for the better because of it. It may be because I chose not to be the victim. Instead, I chose to make light of a dreadful situation to take away the fear I felt. I vowed that I wanted to be a source of hope for others who were also in my shoes, since hope is often the one thing people lose first when getting a mesothelioma diagnosis.Whatever the case may be, I chose to find the good and hope for the best.
Fortunately, I was referred to one of the world’s leading mesothelioma doctors, who was able to give me the hope that I could beat my cancer diagnoses. Upon learning I was to have surgery to remove the tumor on Groundhog’s Day 2006, I nicknamed my tumor Punxsutawney Phil. We renamed Groundhog’s Day “Lungleavin Day” to commemorate the day my lung left. Every year during the first weekend of February, we have a party to celebrate Lungleavin Day. It is a celebration of life, of conquering fear and of seeing the good that comes from an otherwise bad situation. It is a celebration of hope.
My cancer diagnosis also allowed me to meet some of the strongest and most passionate people I’ve ever met in my life. I met wives, husbands, sons, and daughters who in some way have been affected by mesothelioma, and am proud to say that I now call them friends. My life has much more purpose to it now, and I am glad that I can also be a source of hope to those who need it most.
About the writer: Heather Von St James is a mesothelioma survivor and a guest blogger for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Her story is one of hope and inspiration and she hopes to spread her message to anyone who may be going through similar situations to her own.
Check out Heather’s story on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.
- Mesothelioma Victims Center Has Created a Mesothelioma Victim’s Bill of Rights That Includes Naming the Best Mesothelioma Attorneys Because They Get the Best Results (prweb.com)
- Guest Post: A Positive Outlook Can Get You Through Anything (lifewithoutpink.com)
- Mesothelioma Victims Center Urges Families Dealing With A Mesothelioma Diagnosis To Not Wait To Long For Possible Compensation & Getting The Best Mesothelioma Attorneys (prweb.com)
- My Glass is Full Because of Mesotheliom (purpleborough.wordpress.com)