Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not My Mother's Journey: Author Heather St. Aubin-Stout Shares Her Personal Story

Guest Blog by Heather St.Aubin-Stout; author: Not My Mother’s Journey
The Importance of Sharing Your Story - Catharsis and Inspiration

Heather shares her personal story about breast cancer and her passion about supporting those going through the journey.

From the time I could read and write I wanted to be an author.  Looking back on this now, I'm not sure this was really what I wanted to do or if this was something that was projected onto the oldest daughter by her mother who loved to write.

Although I went to college for architecture, and had a career in the field of architecture before my children were born, I continued to write for myself.  After staying at home, working part time substitute teaching and doing much volunteer work I was ready to go back into a career when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Then in 2009 at forty-six and in remission for a year after two bouts of breast cancaer within the last three years, I began to write again.  It was a release, it was cathartic, and although it was also painful to re-live everything, if was also exciting to do something I had thought about for years.

I felt the need to write about my experience and how it was different from my mother's, who at forty-five died from breast cancer just a year and a half after her diagnosis.  A life unfinished.

I was twenty-four at the time and two weeks away from getting married. Her doctor had told her not to plan on being at my wedding. Of couse the month before - when he told her that - we were outraged.  A few days before she died, the hospice nurse asked what I would do if my mother didn't live to see me get married.  I broke down in tears; it was unimaginable to me that she might die in the next week.  At this point during her illness my mother was not the mother she had been during the rest of my life.  I just refused to see it.

My mother was a stay at home mom, she was there for my two younger sisters and me while we were growing up.  She went back to school when I was in college, moving from ther Bachelors to a Masters in Clinical Psychology.  She was disgnosed during hter second year.  She plowed ahead with internships, classes, and her thesis anyway while she was going through treatments.  However, she never did get her thesis completed.  My father, sisters, and I accepted the first posthumous degree ever awarded from University of North Carolina at Charlotte the year after her death.

For years it seemsed cruel to me that death took her before she could finish her degree and experience the rewards of a career.  However, looking back on it now, she shaped all of our lives during those years she was at home with us.  This is a gift I've just now begun to realize and treasure.

So, here I am at forty-eight and trying something new. I've reinvented myself, yet again.  I've found, as I've matured, gathered those life experiences one can only gather from aging, that each of us has many facets to ones self.  These parts of ourselves can come out when we don't expect it.  Breast Cancer did this for me.  It taught me humility, patience and perseverance.

My book, released in January 2011, Not My Mother's Journey is my story, my mom's story and hopefully it will encourage anyone facing a diagnosis of cancer to be their own best advocate - our doctors have many patients, but we only have one.  Ask questions, interview your doctors, share your journey with others, because it may help someone else.
Ironically, despite the similarities of being diagnosed about the same age as my mom, I tested negative for the BRACA genes (a genetic predisposition).  So when my cancer recurred at the one year scans, the same time my mom's had metastasized, I had to battle psychological demons for the second year in a row.

As of this writing I'm in remission...with my friend NED- No Evidence of Disease!
So my journey continues to evolve and for this I am grateful.
I hope I've written a compelling story, that makes the reader think, one that you can relate to, and one that will validate your own feelings.  I hope it is a story that moves and inspires you in your life.  I have tried to do this.  You tell me!  You can visit my website at http://www.sharingmystory.com/ and connect with me. I welcome your feedback.

You may purchase my book via the website http://www.sharingmystory.com/, by clicking the Amazon link above, from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/, www.xlibris.com in print or ebook format.
For products that can be helpful in relieving uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects during treatment for cancer please visit http://www.lotstolivefor.com/. This is a useful and informative website for patients, caregivers, oncology nurses, cancer coaches and friends and relatives of cancer patients. On Facebook we post helpful information about new developments in cancer treatment, new products and resources. Please "like" us at www.facebook.com/LotsToLiveFor
To be your own best health advocate, consider purchasing the Minerva Health Manager personal health record software.  It might help to save your life. You are your own best advocate!