17 Years of Mesothelioma Survivorship

Lung Leavin’ Day Becomes an Annual Celebration

One year later on February 2, 2007, my husband came home from work with two Sharpie markers and two white plates. You see, I remembered the anniversary but had forgotten all about the celebration for Lung Leavin’ Day. The reason for the plates and Sharpies was to write your fears and things that hold you back on the plate. Then, take that plate and smash it in a bonfire.

So, we did just that. We sat down and wrote our fears on the plates. As I did this, they literally poured out of me. I hadn’t realized how many fears I had held in through the last year, especially since finishing treatment. When we smashed the plates in the bonfire, we realized that this was something others could benefit from. So, a tradition was born.

Ever since, on the first Saturday of February, we celebrate Lung Leavin’ Day with our friends and family. We have even broadcast it on Facebook and Instagram Live to invite people from all over to experience it with us.

How We’re Celebrating Lung Leavin’ Day in 2023

On the sixth year, we decided to use the event as a fundraiser for mesothelioma research and travel grants. To date, we have raised more than $30,000 for various organizations. In 2019, we dedicated all our efforts to The Von St. James Travel Grant. February 2020 was the last live event, however, due to the pandemic.

We made the tough decision not to hold an in-person party until the pandemic is better controlled. Many people who attend the party are patients or cancer survivors, so keeping everyone safe is a priority. We do not let it stop our tradition though!

This year on February 4th:

  • I’ll be on Instagram Live through my account @heathervsj. Feel free to log on at 7 p.m. CST to break a plate virtually with me!
  • We are also still raising money for The Von St. James Travel Grant through the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. This grant helps many mesothelioma patients with the cost of treatment-related travel.

I hope you can join us on February 4th, and if you see fit, donate to our cause.

Lung Leavin’ Day is about more than a surgery anniversary. It’s a time to address your fears and break through anything holding you back from what you desire out of life. It’s about new beginnings and stepping into your power. It’s about love, life — and most of all — hope. That is a pretty sweet legacy if you ask me.

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