Mesothelioma 10th Annual Awareness Day Sept 26th, 2014 – How Heather Von St. James Beat The Odd
In recognition of Mesothelioma 10th Annual Awareness Day on September 26th, 2014, today we are sharing the story of one of the many survivors of this dreadful form of cancer called Mesothelioma. Her name is Heather Von St. James. Her story is one of courage and it brings hope and encouragement to many others.
Whether you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are a survivor or, you know someone who is currently suffering with the disease, Heather’s story is sure to inspire you, and raise your level of faith to believe that you or your loved one will receive total healing as well.
Heather Von St. James’ Story of Surviving Mesothelioma
In 2005 at the very young age of 36, and only 3 1/2 months after giving birth to her beautiful daughter Lily Rose, Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. As if that was not enough of a shock to her, she was told that she had just 15 months to live, unless that is, she took drastic measures.
Although her husband Cameron was by her side every step of the way, it became an uphill battle for both of them as they embarked on a search to find the best treatment and care available.
They were eventually led to Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston Based Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The doctor recommended a fairly new surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy.
Like any other groundbreaking treatment, there were risks involved. But with the support of her husband and family members, the major surgical procedure was done, followed by chemotherapy treatment. Miraculously, she was given a second chance to live despite losing one of her lungs, a rib and a half of a diaphragm.
It’s been 8 years ago now but Heather has made it her lifelong mission to become a patient advocate and is passionate about spreading awareness about the disease and the dangers of asbestos.
What is Mesothelioma?
Cancer in any form is a very scary thing and it affects families in many ways. Mesothelioma or more precisely, malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the cells of the mesothelium and affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. It is very aggressive in nature.
Causes of Mesothelioma
The primary causes of mesothelioma are
- exposure to asbestos – fibers inhaled through the nose and mouth that eventually become embedded in the lining of the lungs
- swallowing asbestos fibers – this contributes to a form of malignancy originating in the abdomen known as peritoneal mesothelioma
- occupational asbestos exposure
- environmental exposure – second hand exposure from a family worker’s soiled clothes
Less Common Risk Factors
It has been determined that exposure to asbestos is among the leading risk factors that causes mesothelioma. The less common risk factors associated with it are:
- There is no causal relationship with smoking and mesothelioma but smokers who are exposed to asbestos are at a much higher risk (50-90%) of developing the disease
- Exposure to certain types of radiation
- Zeolite – a silica based mineral similar to asbestos
- Simian Virus 40 (SV40)
- Erionite exposure – naturally occuring mineral with properties that are similar to asbestos.
What You Need to Know about Asbestos
Asbestos is an insulating material comprised of magnesium-silicate mineral fibers. For many years, it’s been a favorite construction material used by builders and contractors because of its low heat conductivity and resistance to melting and burning.
It can still be found in many homes, schools and commercial or industrial buildings. It is invisible to the naked eye and any amount of exposure can be harmful to your health.
More Facts about Mesothelioma [Info graphic]
- 30 million pounds of asbestos are still used in the U.S. each year. (Source: EWG Action Fund)
- Asbestos is still the #1 cause of occupational cancer, causing 54% of those deaths. (Source: Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization)
- Since 1979, more than 43,000 Americans have died of asbestos-related diseases (Source: EWG Action Fund)
Find out more about Mesothelioma here and here. Read more from Heather’s Blog
Source for infographic
It’s another Great Post indeed on your blog. It’s looking like a motivation post for me I really love to this knowledge of you. you are a good writer and I love your writing skill. Here you have explained lot of things in great style.
It’s what I can call a story with it’s perfect approach to the motivation.
There are many diseases about which most of people are not aware. Even I am reading about Mesothelioma first time today.
I didn’t know about this disease before. Heather has fought for her life. And am really happy that finally she had her life back. God has given another chance to her.
Though her body was damaged but she is home now with her daughter and husband. Family support matters a lot.
Thanks for letting us know about such a wonderful lady. 🙂
Hope you are fine this week. 🙂
Happy to see you here again. Thanks for such a beautiful comment. The moment I was asked to share Heather’s story, I agreed without hesitation. I had heard about Mesothelioma before but never took the time to even find out what it was all about. However, having to do the research to write the post in this detail, I can truly say I have learned so much about it.
There is an even greater awareness on our part and for a moment I thought about the ‘what if’s’ having learned of the places that the causing agent can be found.
Heather has surely fought the battle with Mesothelioma and with death and won with getting her life back. Thank God for that.
Now we can help fight with our voice for victims and survivors around the world as we raise the level of awareness and by sharing our message of hope. Have a great day and upcoming weekend. 🙂
That was such an inspirational and moving story, and well detailed post as well explaining it all so well.
I guess I can somewhat relate to it because my Mom too had lung cancer, even though she was not a smoker, nor was it caused due to the various reasons mesothelioma occurs. It’s like they say when your time comes, which He decides, you just have to go….these are all excuses and ways, isn’t it? And on the other hand, when your time hasn’t come yet – nothing can make you leave this world, just as the case with Heather. Perhaps she had to see her daughter grow and her work was still undone in this world.
Reminds me of the near to death accident I had a few years back, but I survived, and perhaps for the same reason. 🙂
Lovely post indeed, and thanks for sharing it. Have a nice weekend 🙂
I am touched by your story as well. And sorry to hear about your mom. I thank God too for your miraculous escape from that accident. Our purpose and destiny sure was meant to connect and I am so glad that we did. Everything is orchestrated by the Divine and I can see how your life and Heather’s in these instances were meant to touch millions around the world.
Continue to let your light shine so that others may see what a great work you are doing and give glory to the Father above. Have a blessed day! 🙂