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2 0 1 6 Aug 17

How One Mesothelioma Survivor Deals With Survivor's Guilt

I learned early on in my cancer treatment what a cruel, unfair thing cancer can be. It doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, or how much money you do or don’t have. Cancer has one purpose, to destroy the host, no matter who that host is – and many times, it succeeds.

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2 0 1 6 Jul 6

5 Things Every Advocate Should Remember

A strange thing happened to me during my cancer treatment: I had the strong desire to help people, to give back, to inspire. I wanted to be an advocate.

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2 0 1 6 May 24

The Real Costs of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure

Real Cost of Cancer

When one hears the word “mesothelioma,” everyone immediately thinks of the commercials on TV: “If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure… “ and then they think everyone who gets this cancer is automatically wealthy because of a lawsuit. Well, I’m here to set that record straight.

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2 0 1 6 Apr 19

Finding Purpose After Losing Everything

Now what?

That’s what I asked myself as I sat in my car in the parking lot of the cancer center. I had just finished my last radiation treatment, and for the first time in almost a year, I had no more chemotherapy or radiation treatments to go to. I was done. And I was lost.

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2 0 1 5 Oct 27

Making Strides for Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2015

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Mesothelioma Awareness Day, established by Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation volunteers in 2004, has been the driving force behind the movement to bring more attention and funding to mesothelioma.

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2 0 1 5 May 26

My Decade of Survivorship

Heather Von St. James

Today is a day I was never meant to live, this year was one I wasn’t supposed to see, this life is one I wasn’t supposed to have.

No one ever prepares you to fight for your life. When your reality becomes just that, learning that your existence is not guaranteed, your world becomes something you could have never imagined. I always wanted to be a mother, and after marrying the most amazing man, I was ready to be a parent. We would be a new family. I would become a mother, and find a new kind of unconditional love. After giving birth to our daughter, I was overjoyed. That joy suddenly faded after losing weight and strength in my body, feeling that I could not physically breathe. I was concerned, but attributed the weight loss to my recent pregnancy. Finally feeling that something more was actually to blame, I saw a doctor, and was told I had mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. I was given 15 months to live. That was 10 years ago. Throughout the last ten years I have devoted my life to spreading awareness of the dangers of asbestos, sharing hope, and supporting others on their path towards a cancer-free life.

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Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and their Families

2 0 1 5 Feb 26

Breathing New Life Into Lung Leavin' Day

Lung Leavin' Day 2015

Every year following Lung Leavin’ Day, I write a recap of the evening. This year I wanted to do something a little different. I know the event has a huge effect on people, and in the last couple of years people have shared their feelings about the night with me. I thought I would ask a few friends about their thoughts on the tradition and share them with you.

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2 0 1 5 Jan 8

Reflecting on the "Firsts" of 2014

Von St. James family golfing

As a society, we put a huge emphasis on our children’s “firsts”: baby’s first tooth, baby’s first steps. The first birthday, the first day of school. Oh my, how I remember that day with Lily! So many of her firsts were milestones simply for the fact that I was not supposed to be alive to see them. I treasured each of those firsts, and marked the occasions with pictures and videos. I even still have her first tooth somewhere.

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2 0 1 4 Aug 7

The Importance of Support for Cancer Patients

When I was diagnosed with mesothelioma, I felt more isolated than I ever had in my life.. I was a mere 36 years young and told I had an incredibly rare cancer that, in most cases, was diagnosed in much older men. I felt utterly alone and defeated.

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2 0 1 4 Apr 24

Having Our Voice Heard - 10th Annual ADAO Conference Recap

Heather and Cam

I always credit Linda Reinstein from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) with giving me my voice. Four years ago, it was Linda who started me on this crazy journey of speaking and sharing my story with others when she approached me to speak at her conference.

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About Heather

  • Wife of Cameron Von St. James and mother to Lily Rose
  • Pleural mesothelioma survivor
  • Treated by Dr. David Sugarbaker, world renowned mesothelioma expert and thoracic surgeon
  • Self proclaimed “Poster child for hope after mesothelioma” for those suffering from asbestos disease
  • Continues to live with strong faith, abundant gratitude and an unbeatable will to live each day

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