What would you do if you were told at the age of 36, right after starting a family and creating the life you always dreamed about, your doctor told you that you had cancer? You had 15 months to live because of this rare diagnosis of mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos that effects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. You had done nothing wrong that you could think of until you realized the work coat from your father you used to wear all the time would be covered in asbestos. He worked in construction and brought home the toxin everyday when you were younger. Now you are paying the consequences. You fear you are going to die. You are not supposed to life longer that 15 months. 15 months to do everything you thought you had the rest of your life to do.
That is what happened to Heather Von St. James. She was 36 and a new mom when she was diagnosed. She feared she wouldn't be able to see her daughter Lily grow-up, the financial costs would ruin her family, the treatments wouldn't work. Her doctor recommended risky surgery to remove one of her lungs. She was so scared, but she wanted to do anything to live and keep her daughter from not having to grow-up without a mom. So 8 years ago she underwent the surgery to remove her left lung. Before her surgery her sister tried to lighten the situation by nicknaming her surgery "Lung Leavin' Day". That name stuck and now, a cancer survivor of 8 years, Heather celebrates that day every year.
Lung Leavin' Day is celebrated on February 2nd and Heather keeps this tradition to encourage others to face their fears. She gets together all of her family and friends and that night they have a large bonfire. They each write their fears down on a paper plate and then smash them into the fire, watching them burn to ashes. Lung Leavin' Day started with just Heather's family, but with every year has grown larger in her community with 75 people participating last year. She also made it into a fundraiser for mesothelioma awareness and raised over $4,500 last year alone.
Heather feared so much when she heard her diagnosis, but she was determined to not let that fear control her life. She took a stand and wants each and every one of us, no matter who you are or where you are in life, to smash your fears and take control of your life! You can join in virtually here, and share Heather's story on your blog or social media to help raise awareness! We can all come together and smash our fears and raise awareness through the power of social media! You can also directly donate to Heather's fundraising page here!
I want to share a fear that I will be smashing on Lung Leavin' Day. My fear is that I am not living my life to the fullest right now. I am not enjoying each and every day. I am not being grateful for the life I have every morning when I wake-up. My mind is set on just getting through the day as quickly as possible, getting through school, getting blog work and reading done, eating my meals, exercising, and keeping my schedule set to the clock. Each minute, each second must be accounted for even if I don't feel like doing what I should be doing at that time, I make myself do it. But then I lay down to sleep every night and I think to myself, "What am I doing?". I am not happy with my days, I am not happy with this feeling of anxiety hanging over me every waking hour. I fear that I am going to regret these years in my future. I am going to look back and hate the fact that I didn't truly enjoy my young "supposed to be care-free" teenage and young adult years. This was supposed to be the time to find yourself, to experience everything you can, and have fun. But I am not doing that and I fear that it will leave me with regret and depression later on in my life.
So for this Power Monday, I want you to write down you fear(s) and get it ready to smash on February 2nd, this Sunday. It can be anything in the world. Small, big, anything goes because all fears need to be smashed. We shouldn't live in fear, we need to stay strong and confident. We need to take control of our fears and not let them control us. We are better that those fears, we can do anything, conquer anything, and live life how it is supposed to be lived. Heather did it and continues to strive everyday. She turned her fears in to bravery, courage, and support for others. Take you fear and turn it into something better, something that will make you strong, love, brave, and courageous!
I will be taking my fear and smashing it. I will try everyday to make my life count. To not get anxious and rush through everything. To savor each moment I have alive on this earth. I don't want to waste a minute doing something I hate, worrying about the next thing, or just being unhappy. I am sick of running myself to the ground, I am sick of my anxiety, depression, and hate. I want to love, be happy, and appreciate life everyday. I want to live. I want to love. I want to feel my emotions and spirit and let them direct me in the right direction. I need to listen to my body and do what it needs, nourish it, care for it, and not let fear get in the way.
So tell me:
What fear will you be smashing?
***Connect with Heather through these social media sites:***