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Lung Leavin' Day

One of the gifts I’ve received from blogging is that, while I am writing about the world, the world will occasionally pop its face into mine. Each time this happens, I am humbled and honored to be able to look into the very private places in people’s lives. The latest is a letter I received from the husband of a woman who was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma and has now lost a lung to the disease. Heather Von St. James was 36 years old and the mother of a three-month-old daughter, Lily Rose, when she was diagnosed. What she and her husband have done since then is a testament to their courage and to their love.

I won’t tell you Heather’s story, because you should read it yourself. I will only say that I stopped reading at the part in which Heather describes how she contracted the disease. It was awhile before I could continue reading.

I am no stranger to lung disease. I lost a close friend to lung cancer last year (and no, she was not a smoker). I have another close friend who lost a father to COPD and was recently hospitalized with her own COPD. While I have no lung disorder, per se, I do have a mechanical disorder that now prevents me from running, walking up stairs or uphill for more than a short time and, when I am in self-absorbed victim mode, sometimes makes me want to scream at the tiny injustice life has perpetrated against me.

Please read Heather’s story. When she had surgery to remove her lung, her sister dubbed that day Lung Leavin’ Day. Since then, Heather and her husband, Cameron, have turned that day into a symbol of awareness, of hope, and of a call to action. Read about the unique way they developed to symbolize the letting go of their fears and a way we can release our own.

February 2, 2014. Go smash a plate.