First off Happy 2013!
I know it's been a hot minute since my last update and again apologies for my lack of updates. The holidays were a bit on the cray cray side. In between working a part time job, picking up extra hours, running around and taking the nasty mbta again, I had to find some extra time to shop and spend time with family and friends....and had a side road trip to visit an old friend in Philly. A lot of stuff going on but I needed all of that to feel alive again and normal again.
It's crazy to actually sit here and think that it has been exactly over a year that I first started treatment. My oh my how time flies when you are having fun, right? NOT. To be able to get through this year is truly a blessing that I do not take for granted. Chemo? Check! Surgery? Check! Radiation? Check! Meds? Double Check. What can't kill you only makes you stronger right? This is my new motto to live by this year.
Or at least try to.
Originally when I started this blog, I really did it as a personal journal. I've always dabbled in writing when I was growing up. Yes, I was one of those lame teenagers that had those cheap journals that had the fake little locks and the mini keys included with them. In fact if you go to my old room at my parents' house, both of those are still hidden under the broken wooden bottom of my bookcase. Tucked away like a mini Jen time capsule. LOL. Writing was and still is something sacred and a way to express myself when I felt crappy, if I was in love with an unattainable crush, or if I had feelings of elation and unparalleled happiness. Especially when you had that perfect ink from the smoothest pen you could find. Nothing can quite top those feelings and it's always been kind of cool to me that you can trap your words and emotions through two very thinly lined bars across a piece of paper.
I've had the livejournal, the myspace, the fb, but nothing can compare to having your own space to talk about how you are feeling about a life changing situation. I really didn't think many people would read this and actually there isn't like massive amounts of people reading it now, but to get random comments and emails from someone who is either going through the whole cancer process or watching a loved one go through the process feels incredibly powerful and moving to me. people who thank me for posting about my life and being able to maybe make a person feel like they are less alone is worth all the pain that I go through.
One of these amazing readers happens to be Cameron.
Cameron actually emailed me a couple of weeks ago and said he randomly found my blog online and asked if I would be interested in posting something he wrote about his experiences with his beautiful fierce wife Heather- who was diagnosed and treated for Mesothelioma. If you are not familiar with Mesothelioma, it's an extremely rare and deadly form of cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and the abdomen area. Unfortunately in most cases when someone is diagnosed, they only have a life expectancy of 3-12 months which obviously is heartbreaking and horrible. After going through intense treatment I'm happy to say that 7 years later, Heather is enjoying life with their adorable daughter Lily.
Enough with my rambling, onto the post!
Cameron, Lily and Heather...How FIERCE is her hair???!!!
Here is Cameron+ Heather's Story :)
Journeying Through Cancer Together
"My experience as a caregiver to a mesothelioma patient is a deeply personal one. You see, the patient in question was my wife, Heather, who, just three months prior to her diagnosis, had given birth to our daughter, Lily. During what should have been the happiest time of our lives, we were faced with the startling uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis.
Although I could barely contain my fear, anger and frustration, I knew I had to be strong for my wife and daughter. They needed me more than ever and I didn't have it in me to let them down. Part of what got me through this time was dealing with the chaos that comes along with cancer: doctor's appointments, treatments and traveling to various specialists, not to mention my obligations to my daughter and at work. My list of responsibilities was endless. However, staying busy helped me to avoid all the negative thoughts that go along with this dreadful disease. Also, this time in our lives made me appreciate more than ever the constant and unconditional support from all our wonderful friends and family members. Without them, I really don't know if I could have survived.
Heather's first treatment was a major surgery to try and remove the cancer. During this time, Lily was staying with my wife's parents in South Dakota. After her surgery, Heather flew to South Dakota to join Lily and recuperate before receiving mesothelioma chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I had to remain at home in order to continue to work, which meant being separated from my family for the next two months. Being away from my wife and my daughter during those months was excruciating. It got so bad that one Friday night I drove 11 hours to South Dakota after work to see them. It was the middle of winter and I braved a snowstorm just to spend the day and night with Heather and Lily, only to turn around and drive back home Sunday afternoon in order to make it to work the following Monday.
Although it was difficult not being there full-time for my wife and daughter, I knew I made the best possible decision in light of the circumstances. Not working wasn't an option, and I couldn’t work full time and provide Heather and Lily with the care they needed.
I learned a lot during the course of my wife's illness. I learned to be thankful for the ability to make our own decisions, no matter how difficult they are. These tough decisions allowed us to maintain some small amount of control over a situation that all too often seemed completely out of our control. I also learned how to ask for and accept the help of others in a time of need. Without the love and support of our friends and family, I don’t know how we would have made it through. After six years, Heather is still here and is as healthy as ever. I hope our story serves as motivation and inspiration to all those currently fighting cancer today. "
Cameron and Lily! :)
What a beautiful fam! Congrats Heather! :)
Needless to say this is a beautiful story and I'm so happy and glad you picked me to share it with my mini readers :) Blessings are in disguise everyday. Strength, recovery and true love and support always goes a long way! Go Heather!!!! :)
I also want to point out how incredibly wonderful and refreshing it is to hear from a male point of view. Often times when most people think of cancer- (specifically like in my case) such as breast cancer which is traditionally a heavy female-centric (and super girly pink everything ) disease that we tend to forget that men: husbands, brothers, boyfriends and male friends in general have to also deal with both the mental and physical challenges that any type of cancer brings: the various treatments, hospital stays, the physical/mental/emotional changes, the financial strain and just the crazy feelings of seeing your wife, sister, girlfriend/friend going through this very difficult process is not the most pleasant thing to go through. It takes a tough man to handle treatment and recovery and It's wonderful that Heather has a great loving husband to help her through recovery and and to share laughs with Lily!
So thank you again for sharing your story!
If you would like to follow Cameron St James' Blog: Please check out his page:
To follow Heather St James and her progress and Blog: Please check out her page:
To learn more about Mesothelioma and what you can do to help: Please visit their website:
Good luck to Cameron, Heather and Lily and I hope 2013 brings you continued health and success!
Much love to all of you!
ExtraSpecial Thank You to Men Who Make a Difference:
This blog entry really inspired me to think for the past year of all the wonderful guys I've encountered while on this unexpected journey and I wanted to give them the spotlight.
Thank you to the other males that have made difference during our Cancer diagnosis or that I've had the pleasure of meeting in person :) All of you are wonderful and have a special place in my heart!
Hi Jim Roller! :)
Men with Heart:
A wonderful organization I met during my 3-Day Komen walk last year who did the walk along with us and carried these backpacks full of goodies for all the walkers...they did it with style and PINK tutus!!! :) I first encountered Jim on one of our breaks and he gave me candy. And buttons. And more candy. I immediately liked him. And I believe this was his first walk???! He always had a smile, was positive and did the 60 miles like a champ!!!! He is also is quite hilarious on his fb! LOL.
Also as Vicky and I crossed the finish line all of Men with Heart serenaded us with "Pretty Woman"...how awesome is that?!!!
The Tutu Project
And for the Husband (Bob Carey) who travels around the world and takes pictures in a pink tutu and raises funds for Breast Cancer: These pictures he takes are absolutely beautiful and haunting. Please go take a look. Any man that can rock a pink Tutu is awesome in my book!
A special spotlight goes to Jim Hillmann whom I met at the 3-Day Komen walk last summer who lost his mom to Breast Cancer in 2004 and is probably the hardest working one man self fundraiser I have ever had the pleasure to meet for the Breast Cancer cause! ( I think he has raised over $10,000 and he received an honorary award during our walk!) He's such a delightful man and father, role model and advocate. I met him as we were both carrying flags during the opening ceremony for the Boston 2012 walk. He was the first person to talk to me and his gentle demeanor and friendly face help calm my first day jitters! He has participated in all 14 cities of the 60 mile walks (whew!) and he continues to have an ongoing fundraiser for the walks every year. He also has a special bond with a sweet little girl named Zoie whom he met on one of the Boston walks and who also lost her mom to Breast Cancer. Jim is a great person and after the walk was over he personally messaged me to congratulate me and to see how my recovery process was! Thank You!
If you would like to support him please visit his FB page to see how you can support his cause:
For all updates on Jim's amazing story and about Zoie: "The Little girl on Belmont Hill":
For Direct Donations and more, Please click here and consider donating for his 2013 goals!:
Jim definitely has patience!!! :)
John Cena/WWE/Rise Above Cancer
This was definitely one of the funnest events I've gone to for a Komen event. I got to meet Cena, rock his new pink "Rise Above Cancer" line for Breast Cancer Awareness month, bring some friends and got to watch the matches live with front row seats with a pink ring. And proceeds went to the Komen foundation. Definitely awesome that a male wrestler as big as Cena was involved in supporting the pink ladies! :)
And of course my awesome dad...without his funny jokes and his laid back nature and his kick-cancer-in-the-ass attitude and his occasional rides back and forth to the hospital I wouldn't know what to do :) He lost his mom to both breast and ovarian cancer and he helps me any way he can! Thanks Dad! :)
My Brother Darren
I've often thought about how boring my life would be without any siblings and I'm proud to say that I have one of the best younger brothers a girl can ask for. When he's not busy following his magical dreams, he helped me to be more comfortable during my rough treatment with getting me a new bed for my apt, paying for movers when I had no energy to move things up and down the 3rd floor of my old place when I had to move in the MIDDLE of all my treatment. (UGH) He helped me to get random errands done, and weathered my frequent mood changes....I totally appreciate all that you do! And thankful! :)
I would love to do a bigger post in the future for all the wonderful things that men everywhere do to help support the cause! But I wanted to just say a little thank you to the above! You all have made a difference to my treatment and recovery and it made me smile to know that there are such wonderful people out there that can turn possible tragedy into hours of laughter- it is of course the best medicine :)
The world is little more colorful thanks to all your love, support, and general awesomeness!
There are still wonderful men still out there in the world ladies! :)
Stay Strong, and more updates later,