4.17.2014

A story to tug your heart

Today I want to share a story that hit close to home for me after my major lung surgery in 2010, we need to get this story out there and share it with as many people as we possibly can.

Meet Heather


In 2005 at the age of 36, just 3 1/2 months after the birth of her only child Lily, Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. At the time of her diagnosis, she was given 15 months to live, unless she took drastic measures. Well, here she is, 8 years later, minus one lung, a rib and half of a diaphragm, but alive and well. She is a cancer survivor, not only surviving, but thriving. Her and her husband Cameron Von St. James are passionate about mesothelioma awareness and patient advocacy. She was given a second chance at life, and she wants to give back as much as possible. Inspiring others, and giving them hope is what she loves.

1)How has this illness changed your life?

It changed it on an almost foundational level. Everything I knew, everything was, got torn away from me the minute I got the diagnosis. It all at once is the worst thing that every happened to me, and the best. So much good has come of it. I no longer care about the petty things, and am much more appreciative of the every day miracles.

2)What symptoms did you have

It started out with flu like symptoms, fever, heaviness in my chest, then came shortness of breath along with extreme fatigue and weight loss. I was losing 5-7 lbs a week.

3)How long did you have the symptoms before diagnosed


I didn't wait long… probably about a month from the onset of the first symptom.. I went downhill quite fast.

4)How can people know if they may have this?

If you think you were exposed to asbestos, a chest x ray or CT scan is a good start.. Mesothelioma usually presents itself as sore muscles, like a pulled shoulder muscle from the fluid build up in the chest cavity..along with fatigue, shortness of breath and sudden weight loss.



5)How can we support you?

By sharing my story, and video, and donating your social media status for the victims. .. Awareness is where it all starts.

6)What treatment is there

In the US treatment depends on your diagnosis, and what stage you are. Surgery is the best treatment, followed by chemotherapy, and radiation if needed. If surgery is not an option, palliative care is your best course.

7)Does the treatment pose any challenges for their condition?

Getting one lung removed is no easy task.. it changes everything. The chemo is well tolerated by most people, and radiation, depends on the type and how much, as to how it affects you. I'm not a medical person, and only know my personal experience… These questions might be better answered by an oncologist who specializes in mesothelioma.

8)What hidden blessings came with the disease?

All of the amazing people I've had the good fortune to meet because of this disease. My friend Ted says Mesothelioma is the shittiest way to meet the best people. (you can edit that if you want to!! Don’t want to offend anyone!!) My life is so much richer and deeper because of the wonderful people in the mesothelioma community… they are our greatest asset.

9)Have you ever been discriminated against due to your condition?

Not that I can remember. People are usually shocked to learn I have only one lung.


10)Has it affected your personality

It made me less selfish, and more open about my life. I used to be quite self absorbed… that went out the window when I got my diagnosis… I do this for the many meso warriors who are fighting.. awareness and prevention are key. It isn't about me.. its about the entire community.
 
 
Check out Heather's awareness page right here

5 comments

  1. What an inspirational story about an amazing woman. I am in tears!

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  2. Wow - this is beautiful and inspiring!! Tearing up over here!!

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  3. Wow - what an inspiration and how scary that everything hit so fast! Thank you for sharing this!

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  4. What an incredible story of inspiration!

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  5. This is such an inspiring story, it made me tear up, you just never know what may happen.

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