One Woman is Smashing her Fears to Bring Awareness to Mesothelioma

I was recently contacted by a man named Cameron Von St. James. He left me a message in my comments and as always, I was sure it was probably spam mail. I Googled his email address and noticed he had left the same message on several other blogs. That really wasn’t making me very optimistic about the message left on the blog. But he wasn’t trying to sell me anything and to my knowledge I didn’t get a virus from his message.

Instead, I received a very nice email in response to my attention to his comments. I was asked to feature his wife’s story on my blog and while it doesn’t really fit with the general topic of my blog, what it does fit with is humanity. It is an inspiring story about a woman who survived Mesothelioma.

When he contacted me, I had no real knowledge on Mesothelioma. I knew what it was, a cancer, but I didn’t know the symptoms, treatment, or know anyone who might have been effected by it.

Now, I know about LungLeavin’ Day and how it was started by one woman affected by this disease and how it is about more than what they set out to make it about. It’s about letting go of your fears, celebrating the freedom from those fears, and making people aware of the things that are most important to you.

Whether they meant for this event to mean more than their intended cause, it does. It also brings awareness to a cause that most people don’t really think about until it effects their family.

The best way to tell his wife Heather’s story, is to watch this video. I didn’t choose to write about her story because of the disease she survived. I didn’t choose to showcase her cause on my blog because of the message she gives.

I chose to feature this on my blog because I felt a kinship with a fellow mother. I felt a kind of warmth and connection to a mother who was told she would die before her daughter was two years old.

I am always applauding those people who are strong enough to share their weaknesses with the world. To help the world be a better place. To raise awareness to the next generation for understanding. And for those reasons, the connection and the bond across the world wide web, I wanted to learn more about the disease and the family.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer – generally a result of exposure to asbestos. Heather’s own father was in construction and like a true Daddy’s Girl, she liked to wear her father’s coat around the house and outside. Her exposure started from something so simple, so sweet as a coat her father wore. It likely smelled like him, it likely covered her in warmth like him, it likely gave her comfort and I’m saddened that the thought of that coat may not have the same sweet memories when she thinks of that coat. I hope that she does.

That coat made her a fighter. That coat made her a survivor. I don’t know Heather personally, but I do know that she is an 8-year survivor of a disease that doctor’s told her she had 15 months to live from. I don’t attempt to speak for her or her experiences, but I can attempt to try and put myself in her shoes.

I won’t ever know the thoughts that went through her mind during that time, and I will never be able to fully comprehend what it means to get that diagnosis. However, as a woman who does suffer from something that won’t be going away, a silent disease, an unseen disorder, I know the feeling of wanting the world to be more aware of the things you are suffering or bring awareness to the disease that affected her life so much!

Lung Leavin’ Day is celebrated by Heather and her family, and I’m sure it’s reached many, on February 2nd. Every year, this year being the 8th year she’s been cancer free, they stand outside in their backyard, writing their biggest fears on a plate, and then smashing those fears in the fire.

While it may be a simple thought, it seems to easy to do, and yet, to shed those fears, the admit those fears, to share those fears; takes courage. Heather has had courage for 8 years.

So you can go to the website for Lung Leavin’ Day and write your own fears on a plate, and virtually smash it. Why not try it? I did!

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Then I smashed the plate and it felt pretty good. It didn’t really take the anxiety away from me – obviously, but the sentiment behind it was very inspiring.

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**I am not paid for this post. It is simply a post for awareness**

If you would like more information you can visit:

http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/

http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/

Dealing with Sad News for our Family

I love that no matter the mood of the room, the emotions of other people – Peyton makes everyone smile. She calms me and makes me feel lighter when the world feels like its on our shoulders. Two days ago, we found out that Kim’s grandmother is failing in health. She has been moved to Hospice and the family is waiting for her to pass away.

50th Anniversary Party

I have known this woman for 10 years. She has been the rock of Kim’s family their entire lives and I feel as though I have had her in my life since day 1. She is a special person. A person of excellent love and compassion for others. She has lived a long life of love and laughter, sorrows and sadness. The one thing I will always remember and love about her, is the day she took me in her arms that very first day she accepted me into the family.

She didn’t have to accept me. I am not blood and I am not married to Kim. She didn’t have to hug me and welcome me with open arms. When we are in a relationship that some families don’t approve of, that some families are upset about, it can be complicated when family is involved. She didn’t make it complicated.

Kim’s grandmother was the glue that held this family together. A family that I am proud of be a part of. My extended family when my own family is not able to be here with me. I love each and every one of them and I am so thankful to have them in my life. Each of them, her grandmother included has accepted me and our daughter Peyton as family no matter how much blood is not shared between us. The bonds will always be there.

Peyton meeting great-grandma for the first time.

I sit here by the phone, waiting for the call. A few hours of calm and then the flood of tears as I remember that we are going to be losing someone very shortly. Our time with her is incredibly short and yet the memories are long-lasting.

I’m so glad to have Peyton with me right now, because when I am sad and upset, I can pull her up in my arms and hug her tight. Her babbles and her kisses can make me smile again. It saddens me that she won’t get to know her great-grandmother in the way I do. However, I will promise to teach our daughter to love as her great-grandmother loved. Unconditionally and with judgement.

Here’s a goodbye and a goodnight, Benita Gilio. I love you. I cherish our time together. You are a special kind of person and I hope you find your peace sooner rather than later, because I can’t bear to see you going through this right now.

Take Care ❤
Rachael