The big “C” word strikes fear in most every heart. Cancer. Imagine you are a new mom with a beautiful three-month old who holds your heart … and you hear, “You have Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma.” The wall of fear rises up to block all else. “What if … ” becomes a refrain that deafens the world. Researching the “evidence” reinforces the panic: the odds are stacked against you. “Why?” and “How?” pierce through the fear and bring grief and anger. Heather Von St. James lived that nightmare. Her passion for life cries forth as she proclaims the truth about the preventable nature of the deadly disease that sought to steal her life.
September 26 is designated as Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Every year, 3000 individuals face the choking terror of a Mesothelioma diagnosis. Like Heather quickly learned, the prognosis is dire. The average survival rate is one year from diagnosis; only 20% of patients live for five years. The primary cause of Mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. In Heather’s case, that asbestos was part of a loving memory—hugging her daddy when he came from work. Thousands of hard-working individuals were exposed–and exposed their loved ones to a now known human carcinogen. It was exposure that began with good intentions, progressed through lax morality and now needs to be stopped by understanding!
Asbestos is a term that covers six natural minerals with properties sought after by commercial and industrial builders. Flame retardant, strong and resilient, asbestos was embraced as a great product. As research exposed the devastating potential of ingesting the dust from asbestos, greed hampered ethical change. The results are seen in individual lives. Awareness can prevent some from walking the specific road of Mesothelioma … but fear is a common ingredient in every life. Only God-awareness can change that. In addition to combating ignorance of cancer that kills, the lessons learned in facing fear can lead to life as well!
Faith truly does have victory over fear. The evidence in Heather’s case seemed to support the presence of fear. But fear chokes life as readily as cancer. Fear often feeds on “if.” Fear sucks in every nasty possibility and poisons the present. Faith lifts eyes to the love of a good and powerful God. That faith silences the facts with confident hope not in a specific result but in the character of God Himself. For Heather, it was in the midst of the battle—shortly after her first surgery that the victory of faith flew in to rescue her. Hear her words:
That scared me. I started praying. I asked my husband to email everyone so they would start praying too, and to pass the word along. That next morning, my kidneys had started working.
My dad told me that he had a dream that a window opened near my bed, and this bright beam of light came through the window. He said he saw scores of angels ride that light down and surround my bed and heal me. I believe a miracle happened that night.
Faith is a miracle. It is a gift from God Himself. Just like understanding the divinity of Christ comes from the Father, so does the gift of faith.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8
Faith does not eliminate the challenges. The facts remain as harsh as ever … but the hope in faith is that God has not left us alone. We can never know what the future holds, but we can know who holds the future! He will not leave us or our loved ones alone. Faith gives us the strength to be a survivor and help others survive as well. Take the time to educate yourself on Mesothelioma … but first, take the time to hear Heather’s voice and cry out to God for faith that gives eternal victory!
Have you faced the pain of cancer in your family? What has given you strength?