Guest Post: Heather Von St. James

I am so excited to introduce Heather.

I'll tell you a secret.. I don't know who she is but I love her and I think she is amazing. One day I saw an email in my inbox from Heather saying she came across my blog and was wondering if she could guest post. My first reason was ... this must be spam. Who would want to post on my wee blog?? But my gut said.. No Cindy.. listen to her words.. and I did. I read. and I cried. and sent her an email right away.

As a woman, as a wife (coincidentally of a husband who works in construction!), and as a mother. WE need to stick together. So what if my blog is wee small.. so what. If I can be a platform for even one person. That counts. Better than not doing anything.

The message is plain. please share this with your friends. it's important.

Welcome Heather thank you for your email:

"You have cancer."

I have cancer. Three words which not only strike fear into your very soul, but also
leave you with many questions. Why me? I had a baby only three and a half
months ago and I was at the prime of my life, when everything should be close to
perfection. I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that
is caused from exposure to asbestos.

"Asbestos? Wait, isn't that banned?" is always the first question people ask me
followed by, "Where were you exposed?" To answer the first question, No, and I
had a secondary exposure to asbestos. My Father was a construction worker
and did drywall taping, mudding and sanding. His clothing collected the asbestos
dust and he brought it home with him.

I was only 36 years old when I was diagnosed and the Mayo Clinic had only
heard of one other case where the person was this young. Typical mesothelioma
patients are usually older, male, and someone who worked in trades where
contact with asbestos was a regular occurrence. These trades were: plumbing,
heating, electrician, mechanic, and members of the military who had exposure
from the ships. The wives of these men were the next to become ill.

These women came into contact with the asbestos particles when laundering
their husband's clothes and while cleaning their homes. Also becoming sick were
women who worked as secretaries in schools, which had asbestos in them.

I was the beginning of an alarming trend as the next generation of mesothelioma
sufferers has emerged. Young adults are now being diagnosed with it as well.
Children who attended schools where asbestos tiles were crumbling, those who
played in the vermiculite insulation in the attic of millions of American homes
which was contaminated with asbestos, children of those who had
 regular asbestos exposure on the job and brought the dust particles home with them.

The more I become involved in the mesothelioma cause and community, the
more I become aware of how this disease knows no discrimination. I know many
young patients, men and women in their late twenties and early thirties who were
just beginning their lives. Many had just gotten married, had babies, started a
new career, and find all of that coming to a screeching halt to focus on
overcoming mesothelioma.

There is good news. More and more people are surviving this disease due to the
advances in research and treatment. This is occurring within all age ranges.

Hearing you have cancer is scary and devastating, but we must continue to hold
on to hope. Reaching out to each other as a community to draw support from
one another, share our experiences, support one another, cry when things are
not going well, and to celebrate the victories, both small and large!

What can I do about all of this? I choose to tell my story to bring more awareness
to those with this deadly cancer. Things will change only when more and more
people are aware of the causes and of the cancer itself. My story can also offer
hope to those who are newly diagnosed or to make it so people do not live in
fear of mesothelioma. This is a reward unto itself.

please note: these lovely photographs are not mine xo

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