February 2nd is a day of hope for me. Groundhog Day is the day I see an end to the endless days of darkness and cold. I start my countdown to spring, to renewal, to a climb out of seasonal depression. In second grade, we were given a coloring page of flowers for Groundhog Day. We colored one flower a day until spring. As we got closer to the end of winter our paper became morphed from black and white to full color. I’ve continued this tradition on my own into adulthood.
For Heather Von St. James, February 2nd is Lung Leavin’ Day. This is her countdown to health, to physical renewal and to an end to mesothelioma – a dangerous but preventable cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Although asbestos exposure has been a known cause of cancer for a few decades now, there are still asbestos containing products in many homes and building around the world, and any amount of exposure can be dangerous.
Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2005 shortly after giving birth to her daughter. On February 2nd, she left a lung behind and beat her survival odds. She is now a nine-year cancer survivor after being given 15 months to live. Heather and her family started their own tradition — Lung Leavin’ Day and it has continued and grown into something much bigger. Lung Leavin’ Day started as a family tradition but has grown into a fundraiser for mesothelioma awareness.
On February 2nd, Heather invites you to write your fears on a plate and smash it. If you don’t want to smash a physical plate, you can smash a virtual plate on the Lung Leavin’ Day website. Because we have small children (one of whom likes to smash things a little too much), I think we will write our fears on paper plates during dinner and then tear the plates apart. Then we’ll still draw the flowers to color in for the next six weeks — because I like that tradition, too.
You can read more about Heather’s journey at MinneMama Adventures. If you would like to donate to the cause, you can do so HERE.