Saturday, September 26, 2015

Awareness and helping others

Just a warning that this post isn't flowers and rainbows, so brace yourself.

It's about cancer.

Everybody hates that word.  I am no different.

This topic---and ANY variety of cancer---has taken on a very personal note for me.  My family is suffering from it in every direction.  My mother with breast cancer, my cousin and two of my aunts with the same, my uncle and my niece's boyfriend (at 20 years old) with lymphoma.  My best friend, my former boss, my childhood friend, SO MANY of my relatives with skin cancer, and now a scare with my dad (which is all I hope it will be--just a scare), it seems that this awful disease is attacking lives and families from multiple angles these days.  That's why when I was approached by a lovely lady who'd been diagnosed with and BEAT mesothelioma, someone who wanted my help in spreading awareness about it, I felt it my duty to jump in.  We can never know when a life will be saved because a person is caused to look at their symptoms differently and maybe seek help because of them.  We can never know when our story or that of a loved one can bring comfort or hope or just a feeling of not being alone to someone else.  So here I am, broaching a painful subject for most, and sharing with you a little of what Heather Von St. James shared with me.

For a little background on Mesothelioma Awareness Day, I celebrate every year by raising awareness for mesothelioma.  It's often considered a "silent" disease because it can take decades for symptoms to begin to show and exposure to asbestos very easily occurred because the dangers weren't known.  I was exposed by wearing my dad's jacket that had been covered in "dust." :(  -- Heather Von St. James

You can learn more about Heather, her illness and her story by visiting her on social media or tuning in to her tweet chat on Friday (flyer at the bottom).

I'll end with this: For all those who are worried about their symptoms, for those who are awaiting a terrifying doctor's appointment, for those who are preparing for a test, for those who have just gotten the scariest diagnosis of their life and for those whose loved ones are at one of the stages above, please know that you are not alone.  Seek out support, be it in a group or a perfect stranger or a close friend or family member who has been through it before, find someone to talk to.  It can make the weight much more bearable.  You aren't suffering alone.  Only together, through sharing and awareness and fundraisers for research, can we make strides toward beating this horrific disease with all its many ugly faces.

Live every day like it's your last.  I know that's cliche, but it's so, so true!  We can never, ever know when this day, this hour will be the last one of its kind--where our loved ones are healthy and alive, where our bodies aren't ravaged by something we can't understand, where sadness and heartache aren't constant companions.  Enjoy every good day, every good minute. Take pictures.  Write about it in a journal.  Share it with your kids or your parents or your siblings or your best friend.  Whatever you do, grab every second with both hands and make wonderful memories.  I promise you won't regret it:)