Today, I’m sharing with you the story of Heather, a strong mom who beat the odds and faced her fears. She is such an inspiring woman, that all my worries and anxieties now seem so trivial. If she can do it, so can you and I. Here’s her story:
I’ve been blessed with a great sense of humor, and that sense of humor is one of the things that helped my husband and me through one of the most trying times of our lives. I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in November 2005. To save my life, surgeons performed an extrapleural pneumonectomy, which included the removal of my left lung, half of my diaphragm, as well as the lining of my heart.
In addition to undergoing this risky surgery, the situation was complicated by the fact that I was a new mom. Fortunately, I was able to pick out things to laugh about. When I learned that my surgery would take place on February 2, I nicknamed my tumor Punxsatawney Phil after the famous groundhog. This immediately took the seriousness out of the situation to help make it not as scary. My sister and I began to laugh about the tumor running in fear when it saw its shadow. Soon, we began to call February 2 LungLeavin’ Day, which is the day I lost my lung.
My husband and sister began discussing how best to celebrate such a day. My sister, being familiar with fire walking, came up with the idea of writing fears on an object to be destroyed in a fire. Naturally, we weren’t all going to walk on a burning plank. Instead, my husband came up with the idea of writing our fears on plates that could be smashed and thrown into the fire.
One year after my surgery, Cameron and I bought two plates and a sharpie and wrote our fears on these plates. Then, Cameron started a fire in our fire pit. Bundled up against the seasonal cold, we went out together and smashed our fears into that fire. It felt so good that we knew we needed to extend this special event to include family members and friends.
Over the years, our celebration has grown as we invited friends and family to join us. Now, we observe the shattering of fears on LungLeavin’ Day as a fundraiser for fighting mesothelioma. The celebration isn’t just for cancer survivors and warriors. Everyone has fears to overcome. On this day, we even get the kids involved, letting them write their fears on paper plates that can be thrown into the fire.
This year, we hope to include even more people in our celebration. We plan to stream the event live on my Facebook page, and we’ve also launched an interactive webpage for the virtual smashing of fears. We hope you’ll join us this year!