I was recently contacted by an inspiring woman named Heather Von St. James who, a decade ago, was told by doctors that she only had 15 months left to live. She wasn’t asking me for money or gifts, she simply wanted her story shared to raise awareness and inspire hope. Her story resonated with me, and so does her message, so even though this isn’t my typical humor post – I hope you’ll continue reading her story.
In 2005, Heather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure when she was a kid. Her cancer wasn’t caused by smoking, drinking, or anything thought to be menacing – she was simply a little girl who liked to put on a coat her father wore to his construction job. To make matters worse – the diagnosis came a mere handful of months after giving birth to her daughter. She heard the news that so many people fear – she only had 15 months left to live. (Can you imagine coming face-to-face with death? The possibility you would not only leave your husband behind… but you would miss out on your daughter’s life?) Along with chemo, Heather braved a terrifying, yet successful, surgery to remove her left lung. She has coined the day of her surgery (February 2nd) ‘Lung Leavin’ Day‘ and she celebrates the anniversary every year.
Lung Leavin’ Day is all about facing your fears and not letting them control you. I can only imagine what Heather felt. The fear of dying and leaving her family behind. That her daughter would be without a mother. Having the money for treatment. Whether or not the surgery would be successful. Every year she, along with friends and family, celebrate Lung Leavin’ Day on February 2nd by writing their fears on plates and smashing them into a fire. This year, Alex and I are joining her.
Truthfully, neither of us have ever been through anything as scary or traumatic as Heather, but there’s no doubt we have our own fears. Rather than writing them on a plate and smashing it, we opted for lighting a paper plate on fire. There’s something very calming and cathartic about seeing your fears go up in flames.
Guys, life is too short to be controlled by fear and things that aren’t in our control. Be thankful for what you have. What you’ve had in the past. And for every day that you have here.
There is a lot more to Heather’s story than what I wrote in this summary.
– Visit her page here where she goes into detail about her cancer diagnosis and recovery.
– Want to smash a plate without lighting a fire? Visit her interactive page to smash a virtual plate.
– Visit mesothelioma.com to learn more about this deadly form of cancer.