A few weeks ago I was contacted by Cameron Von St. James and asked to share their story. This is one of the most exciting things about being in the public eye and having a blog. I sometimes get asked to share my support for some super awesome causes!
As I read their story, my heart was touched. It took me back many years, to when my Mom was first diagnosed with cancer when I was little. How tragic, scary and just overwhelmingly sad. But their story doesn't end there!!! Heather fought cancer and won. They celebrate every year by writing their fears on a plate then burning the plates in a bonfire as a symbolic way to get rid of their fears. I think this is a fabulous idea. Let’s celebrate and burn our fears away!
Heather’s health started to decline three short months after the birth of our only daughter Lily in 2005. At this point she was losing 5 to 7 pounds a week, had no appetite and felt like a truck parked itself on her chest. After she couldn’t take the exhaustion any longer, we finally called the doctor to have some tests done. In November of 2005, we got the news that Heather had been diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
I can remember sitting in the doctor’s office with Heather in absolute shock as the doctor laid out our options, none of which were good. If we did nothing, Heather would probably live only 15 months. This was not an option since we did not want Lily growing up without a mother. We were referred to Dr. David Sugarbaker in Boston for a promising surgery called an extrapleural pneumonectomy
. Also known as the removal of the affected lung. After finding out that Heather was the perfect candidate, we scheduled her surgery date for February 2nd, 2006.
I can remember living life from one doctor's appointment to the next, not being able to make plans very far into the future. Once I realized what I had control over and what I did not, living with an uncertain future became easier. I also told myself to never look back and question any choices I had made. I would make the best decision with the information I had at the time and always move forward... never look back. Eight years later, we celebrate the anniversary of her surgery, which we call LungLeavin’ Day, as an event to raise money for mesothelioma, celebrate life and throw our biggest fears to the fire!
LungLeavin’ Day is a celebration of life, and part of that celebration is to write your fears on a plate and then to smash that plate and those fears in the fire. It is a way of conquering your fears. Of saying yes these things scare me, but I will not let my fears hold me back for living the life I want to live, of becoming the person I want to be. I may be afraid, but I won't back down or give up. It's not that we have fears, but what we chose to do when confronted by those fears.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me