Recently I was contacted by a man named Cameron Von St. James. Cameron had read my blog gave me a few nice words and requested that I email him because he had a question for me. This caught my attention. At first I was quite sure it was a scam. The email gave me some info about his wife and her battle with cancer with a link for me to click on. My first instinct was to delete the email but something told me to click the link and so I did.
Before I tell you about Heather I would like to share my story first. My grandfather was one of the hardest working men I have ever known. He was an insulation worker and laid asbestos for many years before anyone knew how harmful asbestos was. When I was a teenager my grandfather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. This is defined as a rare form of cancer that develops from cells of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. My grandfather survived for several years but the disease eventually won the war it waged on his body.
That brings me to Heather Von St. James. Heather was 36yrs old and just had a little girl a few months before she was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Heather’s father was a construction worker and when she was a little girl she liked to wear her fathers jacket. Little did she know but the jacket was covered with asbestos. Heather was given 15 months to live. Heather was determined not to give up and it paid off. Heather had surgery to remove one of her lungs. Heather’s sister nicknamed her surgery Lung Leavin’ Day. It has been 8yrs since she had her lung removed. To this day Heather and her family celebrate Lung Leavin’ Day as a day about overcoming your fears. Her family and friends get together and write all of their fears on plates and smash them in a fire. Last year more than 75 people celebrated Lung Leavin’ Day and together they raised over $4,500. Lung Leavin’ Day is February 2, 2014. The Von St. James family isn’t asking for money. They are asking for your attention so they can raise awareness of this horrible disease. Check out Heather’s story at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/.
I would personally like to thank Cameron and Heather for contacting me. Your story is a true inspiration to others. I wish you and your family the best.
Upon my arrival home I was more sore than you could ever imagine your abdomen being, but my spirits were high. Getting in and out of bed was exceedingly difficult so for the first few days I mainly stayed in the bed. My diet for the next two weeks was clear liquids which included sugar-free popsicle and jello. There is only so much broth you can drink before it gets really old and you begin to hate it. So jello and popsicle it was. During the first two weeks I was never hungry and could barely drink the allotted four ounces of liquid I was allowed. At the end of the second week I went to my surgeon for a follow-up and lost 18 lbs. He released me to work as long as I didn’t lift, push, or pull any people and I received a new diet of full liquids with runny oatmeal and instant mashed potatoes.
I stayed on this diet for the next four weeks, but wasn’t bothered too much by it because I was never hungry. That’s not to say I didn’t want food. Most of my hunger and overeating was completely mental. I didn’t have surgery on my brain just my stomach. How am I going to beat this? I knew there was no physical way I could eat anything but that never stopped my brain from reminding me how great the food tasted. My first day of work was the hardest because I wasn’t used to being that active. I made it through the next few weeks without to much difficulty. My next weigh in at the doctor’s office I lost 17 lbs. Everything is going right and no complications what so ever.
So that brings us to my current diet. I am allowed real potatoes, seafood, beans, crackers, and cheese. Have you ever ate so much you thought you may vomit. My first “real” meal I felt that way. I was going to have to learn to stop eating when I wasn’t hungry and not when I’m full. This is easier said than done. At this point I think I may be a vegetarian because I can’t tolerate eggs or fish. Just thinking about them makes me want to vomit. I told myself before the surgery I would work out everyday, and of course I lied to myself. However, it’s never to late and I am hitting the gym harder than ever. My goal is to be 215lbs by October. I have officially registered for Tough Mudder and that is my new goal for myself is to lose the weight and complete a Tough Mudder race. As of today I am down 145lbs. I now weigh 340lbs and I can get around better than ever. I can even fit in my pants from my wedding. i barely fit in them on my wedding day. In a few weeks I get my new diet and maybe I’ll be able to tolerate some of the food on it or it will be cheese and crackers forever I guess. It could always get worse!