Posted in asbestos, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, mesothelioma

A Survivor’s Tale


mesothelioma-survivor-1-520x245
©Unknown

Katherine Keys has been fighting Mesothelioma for 9 years. When she was first diagnosed doctors told her she had less than 2 years. Katherine refused to believe her time was limited and instead decided to fight the cancer. Katherine is convinced that it was her positive attitude and determination to win that has allowed her to survive against the odds.

 At first Katherine thought she had the flu. She was prescribed medication and painkillers but the pain persisted. When the pain was too much to take, Katherine went to the ER, it was there that she discovered she had cancer. Katherine was 49 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 1 pleural Mesothelioma.

For treatment, Katherine had her right lung and the lining of the lung removed, a major surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). After several months of recovery, Katherine began radiation treatments. She had treatments five times per week for several months. Although she had been scheduled for chemotherapy treatments, she was relieved to learn that she didn’t have to have them.

Upon completing her treatments, Katherine attended her regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. At first, they were monthly, then every two months, three months, six months…and now annually. Her follow-up appointments typically consistent of blood tests, a PET scan, x-rays and other tests to confirm that she is still cancer-free.
Katherine was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. They were able to get her financial compensation which helped with her treatments and quality of life.

Today, Katherine feels blessed to be able to spend time with her family and share her story with other people living with mesothelioma. While she has been through a lot and is still challenged by physical pain and limitations after having a lung removed, Katherine sees every day as a gift. She hopes her story brings resilience and positivity to people living with mesothelioma.

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Posted in asbestos, awareness, Blessed, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S Kauffman, Heather Von St. James., imogen rayne, mesothelioma, miracle, survial

Mesothelioma Awareness and A Story of Survival


By, Crystal S Kauffman, Staff Writer/Heather Von St. James-Guest Blogger/Collaboration

©Heather Von St. James
©Heather Von St. James

Patients and doctors want to raise awareness for cancer that is caused by asbestos, which was used in factory and other places people worked at for many years of their love. So, Mesothelioma Awareness Day was created and was celebrated on Sept. 26th, 2015. Survivors are happy to be alive. but they are angry that the use of asbestos has not been banned. The fibers are invisible and deadly, yet 30 million pounds are still used by many different businesses.

This dangerous substance is also used in homes, buildings, schools, and commercial buildings all over the world. Additionally, asbestos is the leading cause of cancer in the workplace around the entire United States. The peak of using asbestos was 30 years ago and over 43,000 die each year from exposure the asbestos, which is still in work places like: mills, military, and in old housing units.

Here is a personal story about a spectacular woman named Heather, who is a courageous survivor of this deadly disease. She is on a mission to spread awareness about the disease, in any way she can. Additionally, if her story, can save one person and their family from facing what she went though. Then, she has accomplished her mission to help families to avoid what she has endured once she learned that she had Mesothelioma.

***Personal Story Written from Heather Von St. James***

In 2005, when I was 36 years old, I was diagnosed with pleural Mesothelioma. This was only three months after giving birth to my baby girl Lily. The symptoms I had could have easily been chalked up to postpartum issues. I was tired, I had only gained 5 lbs through the whole pregnancy, and I had difficulty breathing. I was lucky, and I got my diagnosis within two weeks and that is not usually the case for Mesothelioma patients.

My journey then led my husband, newborn baby and I to Boston, and Dr. David Sugarbaker, who was a world renowned surgeon. I had my left lung removed on February 2nd, 2006, and spent 18 days in the hospital afterwards recovering. My husband had to stay home in Minnesota and work, because the bills still needed to be paid. He saw Lily a total of 36 hours in 3 months. It was a big sacrifice but needed to be done for our family.

After going back home, I did 4 rounds of chemo, and 30 sessions of radiation. I finished my last treatment almost a year to date from the onset of my symptoms. The reason I got sick in the first place was from wearing my father’s coat when he got home from work. He worked with drywall and construction, and at the time as a little girl I did not know that his jacket carried harmful asbestos fibers that would ultimately cause my illness many years later. But, here I am.

I am lucky to be here today, and I’ve made it my life goal to be a voice for the victims, the family members who have struggled with this disease and those who know someone battling or who have lost someone to this disease. Asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. or Canada, and can be found in many commercial buildings and products today. I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness, in hopes that one day no one else will have to go through what I did.

***Meet Heather Von St. James on Facebook or Twitter ***

Let’s raise awareness together!

©Heather Von St. James
©Heather Von St. James
Posted in breast cancer, Cancer, health, Healthy Living, Theresa Wiza

Celebrating the End of Cancer


By, Theresa Wiza, Guest Blogger

©Theresa Wiza
©Theresa Wiza

Today, July 31, 2015, marks the final day of my relationship with breast cancer. You see, today, I just took my final chemo pill! Today I can say good-bye to cancer and everything related to cancer. It took six years of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and taking a chemo pill every day to get to where I am today.

Six years ago, in May of 2009, my mammogram showed no signs of cancer. By September, I had Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). It took four short months for me to find a lump, quite by accident, that turned out to be cancerous. What if I had waited an entire year to get another mammogram?

Getting yearly mammograms doesn’t insure that you will never get cancer. You must perform self-exams – often – in order to catch breast cancer early. What followed the discovery of that lump was a journey filled with decisions about whether or not to have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy, about what type of chemo cocktail I would take, months of recovery, hair loss, and a myriad other reactions to the invading monster that took over my life.

The journey was long and arduous. Sometimes just getting out of bed was a struggle. I wanted to remember what I was experiencing, because I was told that my type of cancer had a high recurrence rate. If I ever got it again, I wanted to make decisions based on my previous experiences, and I wanted to remember the plethora of information I received. I wanted to remember the pain I endured with the sentinel node biopsy. So I wrote about my day to day battles and posted the articles about my journey on a web site that no longer exists.

After that web site disappeared, I compiled all of those articles into one article, and it now appears on one of my blogs – Diagnosis: Breast Cancer: Journal of a Woman Recently Diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

I’ve never run a marathon, but upon reaching this day, this final chemo pill-taking day, I feel triumphant. My journey is over. The final pill has been taken. I am strong. I won!

To celebrate this day, I am getting a tattoo with an upside-down breast cancer ribbon. The word, SURVIVOR, will be written on the inside of the ribbon. The reason I want the ribbon upside down is because I want the two pieces of the ribbon to be a butterfly’s antenna, under which and around the loop will appear butterfly wings. One of my favorite quotes is, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

Cancer is like that. You can look upon it as a death sentence or you can look upon it as just another challenge to overcome. Along with challenges, these past 6 years have come with many changes. Some of my family members have gotten married. Three more babies were born into my family, and my father died. One of my grandsons developed and is currently being treated for bone cancer. So cancer hasn’t completely left my family. My grandson is now fighting his own battle, which he is already winning. He didn’t lose his leg!

I hope that whatever challenges you face, you will look upon them as caterpillars, so you can appreciate and welcome the day you soar as a butterfly!

“The world is moving to a magical place. Be part of the magic.” Theresa Wiza
Posted in author, Cancer, Crystal S. Kauffman, Family, granddad, Relationships, say good bye, terminal

End of Life Communication


My Granddad!
My Granddad!

Recently, I learned that my grandfather has terminal cancer, which has invaded his body in several places. First of all, I was stunned and numbed, by the grave news and the thought of him dying. Basically, he raised me most of my life, so I am very close to him. I couldn’t cry at first, because I thought God would heal him and he wouldn’t die. As, the days go by, I have been a basket case, who is terrified to answer the telephone.

With each new call, I was afraid to hear those words, which I know are coming soon. Then, I realized that he is suffering, so I felt selfish for wanting him to live. Since, nothing has controlled the pain, no matter how much pain medicine the doctor has given him. So, I finally decided to pray for God to heal his whole body, by taking him home to heaven. Through watching his suffering and his depression, I began wondering how much longer I will have with him.

Therefore, I wrote him a letter that came directly from my heart, which was my way to say good-bye. I wanted to let him know that I adore him and that I am proud of him. By writing all my feelings down, I was able to tell him how I truly felt about him. Besides, I knew I couldn’t say it with choking up and bursting into tears. I promised him to honor him and make him proud, as I face this world without him.

Then, I realized that for the first time ever, I would have to make decisions without his wisdom and guidance. Suddenly, I finally broke down and cried for the first time, since I learned about his illness. Everything, seemed come out and before I knew it, I had a five page letter that I gave him a few days ago. Honestly, I will never forget what he said after he read my letter and to be honest; I cried and hugged him.

Now, I don’t feel as if I have left something unsaid or unforgiving in his eyes, before he goes home to God. I don’t feel numb anymore, but I am trying to spend every moment that I can with him. However, it is painful, to watch him writhe in pain. It’s even harder to watch him cry, when I haven’t seen him cry more the three times in my entire life. Saying goodbye is not the easiest thing to do, but it has helped to ease my fears of life without my Grandpa.

Thankfully, this has drawn our family closer and made us learn to cherish, each day we have left to be together. Hopefully, we can spend time making memories and without him suffering in pain. Every day, I will let him know how much I care, until that day finally comes. Then, I will know that it’s my turn to pick up his torch and keep it going. Hence, I shall always remember him as the greatest man I ever had the privilege to know and love.

©2007, Crystal S. Kauffman

Previously published in May of 2007 at Helium.com (Helium.com has been closed)

Posted in author, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, Family, grandpa, imogen rayne, love, Relationships

Grandpa’s Sweetheart


Grandpa Ray L. Amon

RIP: Ray L. Amon/Grandpa

As a young girl, I met my Grandpa on my dad’s side of the family. For those of you who don’t know Ray C. Amon adopted me and my two brothers, as his legal children when he signed our birth certificates. So, legally he is our father and I reconnected with him about ten or more years ago. During that time, I always asked about my grandparents and I learned a few months back that my Grandpa had cancer.

As I first talked to him recently, I began to remember his voice from when I was a young girl and we were living with my dad and mom in Jacksonville, FL. Anyway, I remembered that he came to visit us and I vaguely remember what he looked like then. However, I remembered his voice when he spoke on the phone. He always called me “Grandpa’s Sweetheart”, which he called me again when I spoke to him recently on the phone.

When he became sick, I got sad because I wanted to see him before he passed away. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit him and he went to be with the Lord, but I know he will be watching over me. I hope he gets to meet my other family members and loved one that have already went to rest in the Lord. When I spoke with him, his voice sounded excited and he said, “Hello sweetheart!”  I haven’t heard his voice or him say this to me, him since I was a very young girl.

It felt so good to reconnect with him, but I wish I could have seen him and hugged him before he passed away. However, during the conversation we had; he said that, “He was proud of me and he would see me on the other side.” I knew he loved me throughout the years we were apart and I knew he missed me as well. I just wanted to let him know that I love him and will miss his voice so much, but I am glad he is with the Lord. Thanks to my dad for letting my grandpa and I reconnect with each other, because it meant a lot to me to hear his voice again.

Previously Published

©2014-Crystal S. Kauffman

Posted in Adult only, author, books, Cancer, children, Crystal Kauffman, Crystal S. Kauffman, ebook, Freelance writing, imogen rayne, lulu.com, paperback, Short Stories

My Reflections and Goals


Author Crystal 3

As a young girl, I always dreamed of writing novels or writing for my city’s local paper. Every day, I told my friends that someday, they would see my name in the newspaper on the front page. They would generally laugh or make comments about my head being in the clouds. After hitting a hurdle in high school, I thought I would never be an author, columnist, or journalist. I am so thankful for the opportunity to chase my educational goals while I was down, due to my cancer treatment and aftermath.

My Education Goals

However, I returned to high school and graduated in 2006. Next, I signed up to take a course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. I earned my certificate for Writing for Teenagers and Children in late 2006. Now, I have earned an Associate’s Degree in Arts of Business in 2008, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications in 2011. For the past 15 years, I have been writing short stories, poems, and have written several novels that I am working on now. I am also writing stories and articles for different magazines and books like Guideposts.

It is a Way of Life 

Journalism and columnist jobs require that the employee to be available on a moment’s notice, especially when news is breaking around town. However, I am a twelve year cervical cancer stage 2B survivor, who had aggressive treatment to become cancer free. I am disabled, so I cannot chase stories to become a major journalist. So, I have two blogs that I am using as a column and publishing several articles and stories on different subject matter.

Writing is My Passion

I love writing, so now I write articles for my blogs or I write for magazines as well. Additionally, I am writing an articles and novels now full time. I am a new author when it comes to novels, but I am determined to continue writing. Thankfully, I am very versatile in my writing, so I have three novels coming out which are different genres. I have already publish two small books, a poetry collection and a short stories book for children.

It is a Career

I love meeting new readers and fans, especially as my writing grows and I continue writing things about this I love writing about. I love knowing that my fans and readers enjoy my work, so if you stop by my blogs. Take a moment to leave a comment or even just say HI. Each day is a new day to bring my readers new ideas, stories, and more. Thank you for supporting me in my career choice and I hope you enjoy my future writings.

Respectfully Yours,

Crystal S. Kauffman

XOXOXO

My Email: laughatcancer@gmail.com

My Personal Website/Blog 

Author’s Note: I am a freelance author, who can help you with you next project. So, if you need anything, just email me.

Meet me on Facebook 

Facebook Author Page 

Twitter 

Instagram 

GoodReads

Planting Seeds That Will Grow Paperback or E-book (Children’s Short Stories) Cover PSTWG

Rhymes of the Heart Paperback or E-book (Poetry Collection)

f634c-rothMy Lulu.com Author Spotlight for Paperback

My Amazon Kindle Page

Posted in Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, Donations, Laugh At Cancer Support Community, Spiritual, Wings of Hope Project

Wings of Hope Project-Dec. 2014


Wings of Hope Project has started on November 1st, 2014. We will be giving out patient bags to the Shands Infusion Center for Women in Jacksonville, FL. After they are told they have cancer, the patients will receive one of our bags that will let them know that there is some out there that cares about them. Our goal is to make up 20 bags, so please take a moment and help us make someone day a little brighter.

We need small gifts:

Figurines (Angels are a big hit)

Homemade Bracelets

Small Bibles

Bookmarks (Positive Saying)

Journal or Diaries 

Stickers (positive stuff)

Small Day Calendar ( keep track of appointments for 2015)

Can you help us?

We will be giving them out the week before Christmas.

Thank you! 

Please email me for more details…laughatcancer@gmail.com.