02 February 2014

Lung Leavin' Day & Forgettin' Your Fears

Have you seen those commercials? I'm sure you have. The ones that quickly talk about how, if there's a chance you've been exposed to asbestos, you could have mesothelioma, AND--the real reason for the commercial--you're entitled to some legal or financial consultation.

But do they really even say what mesothelioma is, or how fatal it can be, or how it affects the ones around you?

Today is the Super Bowl, yes, but it's also what Heather Von St. James likes to annually declare "Lung Leavin' Day."

Heather was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma on November 21, 2005--just three months after giving birth--and later had her left lung removed eight years ago today.

At age 36, you would think Heather would be too young to contract such a diagnosis, but it just goes to show we are never quite prepared for what life throws at us. Many chronic illness sufferers that I've met, for instance, are eighteen and younger. Yet another reason not to judge a book by its cover.

Heather wasn't out building homes, though, in order to acquire this rare form of cancer. In fact, it was the asbestos covering her dad's construction work jacket that gave her the disease. She wore it all the time as a young girl. With her diagnosis came the hard hitter--she was only given 15 months to live. But Heather is a survivor, a fighter, a mother. That is why I'm writing this post. Heather should be celebrated.

More about Heather, her family, and mesothelioma

There are so many fears that come along with any disease, but particularly ones that can be fatal.
Financial stress, disease recurrence, and of course, death, are just a few.

"Lung Leavin' Day" is all about overcoming such fears, whether you have a diagnosis of an illness or whether you are perfectly healthy. We all have fears. The idea is to gather with friends and family, have everyone write a fear down on a plate, and then smash those plates into a fire! How exhilarating!

If you'd rather not go out and create an actual bonfire, Heather's created an interactive site where you can smash an animated plate. I did it and boy was it fun! (Just keep scrolling down. You'll learn about Heather as you go on.)

"Lung Leavin' Day" is now also a way for Heather and her family to raise money towards awareness about mesothelioma. If you would like to donate, and are able to, please do.

What fear(s) would you write down on your plate? 

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