16 In all/ Health & Wellness

Surviving & Thriving ~ Heather’s Mesothelioma Survival Story

October is ‘Health Literacy Month’.  This years theme is: “Be a Health Literacy Hero.”  Health Literacy Heroes are individuals, teams, or organizations who not only identify health literacy problems but also act to solve them.

Allow me to introduce you to a true hero.  This is Heather Von St. James.  She is a Mesothelioma survivor going on 10 years.

heathervon2

Her story began in 2005 shortly after the birth of her daughter.  It was at this time a mass was discovered in the lower left portion of her lung.  She had cancer. A specific type of cancer called Mesothelioma, of which 80% of cases can be attributed to asbestos exposure.  You see, Heather’s father worked with drywall, and brought the asbestos fibers home every night on the jacket that his daughter would proudly wear and play in.  Interestingly enough, a vast majority of the 3,000 people diagnosed each year in the United States are male.  Of the 3,000 Americans diagnosed, 90% will not survive the two year mark.  So as you can already see, Heather has beaten the odds.  The beginning of her journey though, was anything but hopeful.  She was told that without treatment, she would maybe last 15 months.  Imagine her heartbreak as she looked into the face of her three month old daughter, knowing she would likely not live to watch her grow.

One of the things that Heather shares when retelling her story, is how she immediately went online to research her disease and what a mistake it was.  It is worthwhile to quote her here, as so many people  understandably do this and become ‘defined’ by what they read.  Heather writes, “Everything I read confirmed what the doctors told me: I would be dead in 15 months. I decided right then to stop using the Internet to determine my life span.”

She entered the grueling world of chemo and radiation treatments cancer patients are all too familiar with.  When she finished treatment and began to heal, she decided to tell her story.  She has become an advocate with a mission to spread awareness of this devastating disease that takes the life of 2,500 people each year in America, and a staggering 43,000 people globally. Want another shocking fact? Asbestos is banned in over 60 countries around the world, although some of those allow for partial uses of asbestos.  The shocker? The United States of America has NO ban on asbestos!  Yes, there are areas where it is no longer used.  However, it is still used in gaskets, friction products, roofing materials, fireproofing materials, and in hundreds of consumer products that are used every day.

Heather is a hero because she is a fighter.  She not only fought for her life in order to stay with her husband and their 3 month old daughter, but she continues to fight to hearten and bring hope to those touched by this insidious disease.  She is one those inspiring human beings about which it can be said, ‘the world is a better place because Heather is here fighting with us and for us’.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Katherines Corner
    October 11 at 1:13 pm

    a lovely post about your hero. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. xo
    Katherines Corner recently posted…Funky FridayMy Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 11 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks Katherine, have a great week 🙂

  • Reply
    Sue
    October 11 at 3:03 pm

    Heather is a hero and also very lucky that mesothelioma was diagnosed. Sadly my mother lost her life to lung cancer. None of her doctors said it was Mesothelioma. We did not know that was what she had until after her death. If we had known and she was given the right treatment maybe she would still be here today. Companies knew that asbestos was dangerous as early as the 1930’s. They hid the information for many years. It is shocking that the US still does not ban asbestos.
    Sue recently posted…Judging Others – We All Do ItMy Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 11 at 5:03 pm

      Sue, I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. Death is painful as it is, but when a death could have been prevented, the loss can be senseless and angering. Thank you so much for sharing here, I believe this is part of what Heather was hoping for, a chance to bring awareness and start a conversation about this issue. So much love to you my friend, have a blessed week ♥

  • Reply
    All that's Jas
    October 12 at 2:27 pm

    Great story! She is a hero, indeed. Thanks for sharing. We love having you at Thursday Favorite Things blog hop.
    All that’s Jas recently posted…Italian Chicken with Artichoke SauceMy Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 12 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks Jas, appreciate it 🙂

  • Reply
    Elaine
    October 13 at 8:19 am

    Yes she is a fighter and a hero…someone we can look up to! Great Post! Thanks for sharing on My 2 favorite Things on Thursday – Link Party!! Hope to see you again! Pinned.
    Elaine recently posted…Bridesmaid Boxes – How my daughter asked her girls!My Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 13 at 9:24 am

      Thank you Elaine, have a great week! 🙂

  • Reply
    Beth
    October 13 at 11:29 am

    What a lovely post! Thanks for sharing.
    Beth recently posted…Wakey Wakey #89My Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 13 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks Beth! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lizzie Roles
    October 14 at 7:00 am

    My friend Karen over at 365 Pearls of Wisdom interviewed Heather a little while ago, she is inspirational and I love that her story is being told. Thanks for sharing. Here is Karen’s post in case you’re interested http://365pearlsofwisdom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/through-her-looking-glass-heather-von.html Lizzie xo #sharewithme
    Lizzie Roles recently posted…Love Your Town MoreMy Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 14 at 9:10 am

      Thanks Lizzie, you’re right, that was a great interview you linked to. Thanks so much for stoppin’!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton
    October 15 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks so much for introducing me to Heather Von St James, her story is amazing and I love that she is reaching out, to share her story, to help others and to teach the rest of us. I had no idea that asbestos was still used in products in the USA, that’s really scary. Other countries also don’t use a lot of the chemicals and hormones that we allow in our food. Hmmm…I think we have it backwards. Thanks again for the article, kudos to both you and Heather!
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…#WAYWOW 20!!! Whoo-Hoo! Ya’ll Rock! Let’s Party!My Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 15 at 11:18 pm

      Too true Nikki! I thought asbestos was illegal in the U.S. too, until I read the research. Thanks again Nikki 🙂

  • Reply
    jenny
    October 21 at 2:34 am

    Great story of your hero and always motivating to hear. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. I hope to see you again this week for another great round of #sharewithme
    jenny recently posted…Share With Me ~ #42My Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      October 21 at 8:46 am

      Thanks Jenny 😉

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