The Little Girl that Saved a Life

Gust post

The Little Girl that Saved a Life


“I saved my mommy’s life.”

Without missing a beat, this is what my 7-year-old daughter says when asked about my cancer. She knows how true the words she speaks really are. Her automatic response has become such a part of her life that she doesn’t even think twice before answering. There are some who may question her words, but I am sure to let them know how accurate my daughter’s words are.

My husband, Cameron, and I waited for seven years after we were married to have children. I was concerned about issues involving a pregnancy at my age, as I was 35 years old at the time. But after just three months, and three pregnancy tests, we found out I was pregnant! I was shocked, excited, and nervous at the same time.

After a smooth pregnancy, the baby was breech, causing the need for an emergency C-section. Always looking at the positive, I commented that at least the baby would have a round head! From the first moment I laid eyes on her and got to hold her, I knew I would do everything in my power to always be there for her.

That perfect moment was shattered just three and a half months later. I received a diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma and was given fifteen months to live if I didn’t begin treatment immediately. My husband took over in that moment, as I was in shock, and all I could think about was Cameron and our daughter, Lily, who was still just a baby. While I sat there wondering how I could keep them from having to live without me, the doctor discussed treatment options. Cameron saw how badly this news was affecting me, and immediately made the decision for my treatment. We would be going to Boston to meet with one of the world’s best mesothelioma doctors and undergo whatever treatments he deemed necessary.

This resulted in the removal of my entire left lung, the lining surrounding my heart and surrounding my diaphragm. After 18 days in the hospital and 2 more weeks at an outpatient facility in Boston, I was able to travel to South Dakota to stay at my parents’ house with my family for 2 months of recovery before returning home to Minnesota to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

In order to live for my daughter, I sacrificed spending her 6th month of life with her. This sacrifice was worth having many extra years to spend with her. The fact that this innocent little girl needed her mommy through her lifetime was what kept me going through all of my treatments and recovery from a cancer that kills nearly 95 percent of its victims. My daughter turned my death sentence into life, so when she tells people that she saved her mommy’s life, she is telling the truth.

Heather Von St James