Mesothelioma Mom

Today I am attending my very first BlogHer sessions!  Actually, today is Pathfinders Day, where you can choose a “path” to learn about in morning sessions and afternoon discussions.

The “path” that I chose was how to use my blog as an agent of change.  Some of you know that I want to do MORE with Sluiter Nation.  I want this to be how our children know their family once that family is gone.  Cort’s dad died the year we were married, so our kids won’t ever have met him here on Earth.  We try to support cancer awareness and research efforts, but I want to do MORE.

Today I am hoping to learn about how to do that through my blog.

While I am busy scribbling notes and asking questions and eating saltines to keep my tummy under control, I am pleased to have Heather Von St James here to share her powerfully miraculous story of struggle and success.

Please giver her your love.

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A new baby brings with it so many changes. The first few months are crazy, filled with no sleep, adorable little clothes, and late night feedings. Unlike most new moms I was diagnosed with a mesothelioma prognosis 3 ½ months into raising my daughter. Yeah, not exactly what most people go through when a new baby comes into their life, but it happened to me and I had no other choice but to fight.

Lily was born on August 4th, 2005. Our whole family welcomed her especially because she was first and only grandchild on my side of the family. Although she was not the first grandchild, or even the 10th on my husband Cameron’s side of the family they were all beyond excited to welcome her into our lives. It didn’t take long before we got into a little bit of a routine. I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to work, but because of the line of work I was in, I had to get back part time when she was only 4 weeks old. I was part owner in a large salon company and had a full book of clients to get back to.

During the month of September I noticed how tired I was. I pushed it off as just having a baby, via c-section, no less, since she was a frank breach… No wonder why I was tired! In October in went back almost full time, 36 hours a week to be exact. Yet, my fatigue issues seemed to persist. I had healed well from the c-section, and just chalked it up once again as having a new baby was exhausting.

In addition to my fatigue, I was losing weight, and I mean a lot if weight. I had only gained 5 lbs during the pregnancy, which was odd to begin with. I had always been a full-bodied woman. I was 5’10” and 225 pounds when I got pregnant. My husband and I believed the weight loss was due to a healthier diet and taking better care of myself. We had devised an ulterior answer to everything, or so we thought.

However, after the pregnancy the weight literally melted off. On average I was losing around 5- 7 lbs a week. I had heard that breast-feeding helps you lose weight, and thought that must be the reason. As October went on, I continued to lose weight, felt lethargic, and then the fever started. Everyday, at the same time I would get a low-grade fever. Finally, after one scary incident of waking up to get ready for work, getting Lily up, feeding her, putting her in her swing I sat on the couch, barely able to lift my arms. I couldn’t catch my breath; it felt like a truck had raked on my chest. I sat back on the couch and fell asleep. I woke up 2 hours later. Little Lily just looked at me from her swing, cooing and gurgling like the happy baby she was.

This scared me! I was scared enough to call my doctor and begin to find out what was wrong with me. I called in sick to work that day and went to see my doctor. His initial thought was that I had a heart virus. Due to the fact that I was breast-feeding he was reluctant to give me antibiotics. He told me to take some time off of work, and come back next week if I didn’t get better and he would do some tests. I was back a week later, feeling just as bad. He ordered some blood tests and when they showed some abnormalities he sent me for a chest x-ray. It was then that we knew we were up against more than postpartum symptoms.

I was a new mother with a terminal cancer. I beat the odds. I may have missed part my baby girls childhood, but I am able to celebrate her 6th birthday on August 4. Her birth was what got me through the most difficult time in my life. She is the reason I am a proud and healthy mesothelioma mom.

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Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing your story!

To read more about Heather and how she got mesothelioma and being a mesothelioma mom, you can click here.

you can also follow her on twitter.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Heather –
    I am so thankful that you are doing so well, what an amazing blessing! In early Spring of 2009 my father in law also went to Boston and had what sounds like the exact same surgery you did by Dr. Sugarbaker! (he’s amazing). I’ve never seen such an intense surgery or recover, wow.

    I hate to type it, but my Father-in-laws story of survival didn’t end the way you’re has. Our family has found extreme comfort that he is now pain free, jogging the streets of Heaven.

    Again, I am so encouraged hearing stories of survival from this aggressive and horrible disease.

  2. WOW!! What a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it Heather, and I’m so glad you are doing well now. It is my life’s wish that I get to see a cure for Cancer in my lifetime!

  3. Your words and indead your story of recovery gives hope to all those who have had cancer touch their lives Heather. Thank you for sharing it with us and my prayer is that you continue on your path of total wellness.