Life Depends on Hope – Tribute to Aunt Gracie

I was recently contacted by Blogger Cameron Von St. James and asked to help him celebrate and spread the word about Lung Leavin’ Day Imagewhich he celebrates with his family and friends on the 2nd of February each year in honor of his wife’s journey and survival of Mesothelioma cancer. Though my blog is not about health and wellness because I am no authority on the matter, I decided to help because his request reminded me of my aunt who recently died from lung cancer.

I didn’t know my aunt very well as I only met her twice before she died. The first time I met her she was still smoking and could hardly breath. We went to the beach and she could not swim for long because her lung could not manage the pressure. All in all, it was a good day and I wished I had met her before now. I asked her about quitting smoking since things were so bad and she made the similar excuse that many others in her condition have made – its too hard.

The next time I met my aunt, she came to visit us because she wanted to see us before she could not travel anymore. This was because smoking had consumed her lungs and she was unable to even walk a short distance without resting, so you can see how flying would be a difficulty for her. While with us, she explained about her condition, at this point she was no longer smoking – this was a little over a year since I had first met her. She was a fun aunt and though she was confined to the living room chair, we still were able to enjoy her company because she told the best stories.

Admits all the joy and laughter of her presence, the gloom of her condition continually reemerged in small acts that she tried to accomplish. The house that I lived in at the time was quite small and she found it a mammoth task just to get from room to room, but what was worst, when she was to take a bath, my mom had to bathe her because she was unable to carry out what others would think is the simple act of cleansing ones self.  

I don’t know how my aunt was for the rest of her time on earth, because our family really isn’t that close but I soon found out that she had died because she was in need of a lung transplant and we all know that those aren’t readily available.

It might be unclear why I drew parallels from these two stories. The truth is, that’s the closest exposure I have had to someone diagnosed with a terminal illness. Like my aunt, many of us take our lives for granted and we do things to take us to the gates of death without considering how our departure may affect others.

The story of Heather Von St. James is quite different though.  Her illness was as a result of the love she had for her father and out of the greed of many company owners who knew the dangers of asbestos but continued to have their workers exposed to this chemical. unlike my aunt, heather was an innocent bystander in all of this, and unlike my aunt she chose to fight for her life, not only for herself but for her family and her friends and also that she could be able to spread hope and awareness to the rest of the world.

I recently learned about the effects of asbestos in a writing class that I had taken last summer. I wrote about bauxite mining because that was the closest mining industry to me, however, one of my classmates did her paper on asbestos mining and that’s when I became aware of asbestos itself and mesothelioma. I came to the realization that I was exposed to asbestos because they recently removed some that was used for roofing at my workplace. I can’t say how many times I had walked those corridors without knowing the dangers that were lurking just above my head, and I can’t say that I have not come in contact with this substance on any other occasion. What I do know is that much like myself, many persons around the world have been unknowingly exposed to asbestos and as such we are predisposed to this disease.

So, I take this opportunity to help Heather to spread hope, hope of survival,  not just for persons suffering from Mesothelioma but for all persons with chronic diseases. I also want to encourage others not immediately affected by such conditions to become aware because our boats can be tipped at anytime. Diseases  and death have no respect for any man.

Please help to spread the word and click on the links  (above) for further information about Heather and Cameron’s story.




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