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I’m a survivor

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien 

In life there is often a black and white ways in which we view ourselves, as a victim in our life or of our circumstance, or as a fighter. I won’t go into what happened to me many years ago, but I will say that although I was helpless and a victim in what happened to me I was never helpless in how I thought during that time. Don’t get me wrong, I felt helpless at times, I blamed myself for making mistakes and poor choices/judgements that lead me into a dangerous situation, but the truth is when I look back at myself during what happened I see myself as a fighter and as a survivor! 

There was a part of me inside that fought like hell to survive, that refused accept responsibility for the things that happened to me. I knew better, I knew that I was worth much more than what I was being given, I knew that I didn’t deserve what was happening to me and I knew that I had to be smart and make it out of the bad situation I had found myself in. 

I made it out alive, but not unscathed. I went through some dark times of self blame and even self hatred. I lived in fear for many years, but through therapy and some serious soul searching I embraced that fighter within myself and I even started to love her. I became stronger and more powerful and although it would have been easy to keep a protective shell up I didn’t. I opened myself up to life, and to love and am now (at least most days) living a happy and healthy life. But the life I live now didn’t come easily, I had to fight both my inner demons and often I still have to fight them. But that survivor in me knew that I was worth more, that I deserve happiness and so I continue to fight and I refuse to live in fear or with hate because that would make me a victim and I am no ones victim! 

I am sure many of you can relate, there are times we all feel like a victim, but we are more powerful than that! We just have to keep fighting and believing in ourselves. We need to always know that we are worthy of love, of life, of health and happiness. Sometimes no matter how hard, we have to pick ourselves up and believe we can make it, we can be powerful, and that we can choose our destiny, despite what may be happening to us. 


I recently was in contact with a woman by the name of Heather Von St. James. At age 36 and only haven just given birth to a baby girl Heather’s life went from a great high to a terrible low when she was diagnosed pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the protective lining of the lung, as a child Heather had worn and played in her father’s work jacket which had been covered in asbestos, and a 36 she found out that this innocent play as a child was now possibly going to rob her of a life with her own child. Heather was told she may have only 15 months to live. 

The doctor at the time told Heather that her best chance of survival was to have her lung removed and battle her cancer head on. To do this she had to leave her home and her child and go through a risky procedure along with chemo and radiation therapy, which if you read her story you will see was pure hell. But Heather was a fighter, she chose to fight for her life, to give it everything she had, and believe me it took everything she had and more than she thought she had. But 10 years later Heather has beaten the odds!


Heather says,

“While I have suffered many losses in the last 10 years, what I’ve gained is far more profound. I found my voice, my true self. I’ve found that when faced with incredible odds, I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I’ve found and surrounded myself with friends and warriors who, like me, live every day to the fullest.”

I wish everyone could survive cancer like Heather has, but I know sadly not everyone does. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t fight though, it doesn’t mean that are any less powerful, they still gave it all the could and they and their families have every reason to be proud!

Someone very close to me was told 12 years ago that he would not live for more than a couple of years, 12 years later he continues to live and leaves the doctors speechless!

My mum was told she may never walk again after being struck with a terrible illness which also stole all her memories, but she fought and she battled and we just this afternoon went on a lengthy walk together able to chat about anything and everything.

We all have our battles, and usually our battle scars. We all have challenges and things to overcome. Illness, injury, heart break, abuse, horrific childhoods, loss of a life partner, a parent, a child, or a best friend. We all have our own inner demons to fight and they are never easy, but we have more power and fight than we realise! Never stop believing in yourself and your ability to overcome what you are going through!

When Heather had her lung removed 10 years ago, her sister named it (to lighten the mood) “Lung Leavin’ Day” and now Heather celebrates this day every year. It is a great way to acknowledge how far she has come. But lung leavin’ day is about more than Heather she has made it a day where survivors of all personal fights can acknowledge and overcome their fears.

Each year she gathers with family and  friends and they write their fears on  plate and then smash them in a fire. It is a fabulous way to smash through your fears!


Lung Leavin’ Day has grown bigger every year, and is now used to raise funds for mesothelioma awareness. To date, over $18,000 has been raised, which is pretty awesome!

You can choose to get involved and smash your own plate, head to the Lung Leaving’ Day Website to find out more.


Or you can see Heather’s story HERE.

To find out more about what   Pleural mesothelioma is head to this website 

I would like to thank Heather for sharing her story with me, and I want my readers to take away from this that no matter how impossible life can seem, or how uphill the battle feels you have more strength than you know, so never stop fighting, never stop seeing the good in the world around you, and always know you are worthy of great things.

Thanks for joining me, love Mackenzie xx

My Random Musings


Tracey Abrahams

I recognise a lot of myself in your description of yourself. The feelings of self hatred and blame that sometimes flare up, alongside the determination not to let the fear and hate win. What I found has been the over riding response to my own victims/survivor post is that people see a much greater connection between surviving and being a survivor that I had done in the post. I had always seen a survivor as someone who has got past the thing that happened to them, and so by definition I can’t be a survivor of my poor mental health because its not over, but I have been made to think that I survive each day with it and in that way I am a survivor too. Xx #coolmumclub

Mackenzie Glanville

I do see you as a survivor, but I guess ultimately is how we look at ourselves that matters most. I hope you see how amazing I, and many others think you are for facing your fears and living each day despite your mental illness. You have so much to be proud of.


A really inspiring and uplifting post. We do have to be careful when we use the word victim. I agree with you that you can also be a victim but a fighter too! #coolmumclub

Mackenzie Glanville

Thank you for your comment, yes I really do believe we can be a victim whilst being a fighter!


What a lovely piece to give us all some much needed perspective Mackenzie. It’s funny, I guess I have survived a few major things in the past but do try to stay in the present as much as possible. Sharing Heather’s story is a great way of reflecting on why the now is just so important. Thanks for linking this up to #coolmumclub lovely x

Talya –

Mackenzie Glanville

Absolutely Talya it really does give us reason to be in the moment and be grateful for all we have.

Mrs Tubbs

Wow, what an amazing woman Heather is. Thank you for sharing her story. Wow

Marie Loerzel

What a warrior! And what a great tradition!

Mackenzie Glanville

Yes it is a great tradition and something we can all embrace. Thanks Marie


Very Inspiring mg. Thanks for sharing about Heather. I have personally seen my close relatives and friends surviving cancer and I know how much courage and support they need.

Crystal Horton

I love this post! Thank you for sharing. This is such an inspiring message. “Battle scars” are what brought us to this day and is something to be super proud of and to proclaim “I’m a survivor” in order to help others that are going through the battle now.

Kala Ravi

Hi Mackenzie, that was a truly inspiring post. Heather is truly incredible! No mean feat overcoming the odds. Your post is pretty relevant and worth sharing to spread awareness about such conditions.

Babies and Balderdash

Lovely, inspiring post. My best friend gave birth to her daughter exactly 1 year ago, and 10mins later my friend had a seizure. After scans a brain tumour was discovered and if it wasn’t for the pregnancy she would never had known it was there until maybe it was too late. After a year of chemo and radiotherapy she’s still got 3 months chemo left but all is as well as it can be and she has beautiful healthy daughter who turns 1 this week! x

Bumbi's Mom

Thank you for linking up with the #FabFridayPost and for sharing the incredible story of your friend.


Thank you so much for sharing such an amazing and inspiring post with us! It connects to me personally as I too have been through hell and back at some point in my life and know the feeling when you are stuck in badly! But, guess, some of us survive to tell the tale and your story immediately resonated with me. Heather’s story is as amazing…incredibly brave to fight it out and not quit. My best wishes for you…and all of us who have been there…wishing you a fantastic week ahead! No matter what, let us keep our chin up!:-)


I love your quote and this whole story reminds me of myself. I went through the same things of self hate and self blame but like you, through therapy and a lot of soul searching, I found myself, who I’ve always been. People tried to crush me but I emerged stronger than ever! I am a survivor! Love this post! #anythinggoes


I work at a hospital and can say that many people have similar stories about how much time they are given and beating the odds. Nobody should ever give up after after a diagnosis. Thanks for sharing

Nadine (@caringchaos)

What a truly humbling story – sometimes we do need to ‘break down’ to rebuild a stronger version of ourselves. I can definitely relate to going through big struggles and choosing to be a fighter – it is not easy but it brings lasting happiness, lovely post x #Anythinggoes

laura dove

Wow what an amazing, inspiring post. Thank you so much for sharing this, Heathers strength and determination is hugely admirable!! #anythinggoes

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