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Of Memories and Milestones

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 9/13/2012

First day of 2nd grade First day of 2nd grade!

Lily started 2nd grade this year-- 2nd grade! She’s a bright and vibrant 7 year old with a stubborn streak a mile long, and sweetness that will melt even the most bitter of hearts. I love going to ‘meet the teacher’ night and seeing how excited she gets when she walks through those doors at school. So confident and filled with hope and wonder-- she loves her school.

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I Have Cancer? Part 9: Recovery and Rediscovery

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 8/30/2012

Recovery and Rediscovery

Being a parent, my biggest fear is my child getting sick. I think that is a constant fear, regardless of how old your child is. So when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma, my parents had to face that fear. I was their child, their baby, and now I was fighting for my life. Then, with me being a new mom, they had to take over my role as a parent while I was in Boston for my surgery. They were much more than Grandma and Grandpa—they were, in every sense of the word, parents to her in our absence.

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The New Normal

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 7/24/2012

The new normal

You hear the joking comments “Normalcy is highly overrated” and it is, until something happens to shake your foundation, and everything you have is turned upside down. For some people, it is a divorce, a break up, the loss of a loved one, but for me, it was my cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma—rather melodic sounding, but mostly just a deadly cancer. I fought it with everything I had and, right now, I’m doing well. At my last check up, there was no evidence of the disease. I am a 6 1/2 year survivor.

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Extrapleural Pneumonectomy Surgery: My Experience

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 7/18/2012

Heather smiling after surgery

There are certain words in the English language that you never dream of being a part of your every day life—words such as thoracentesis, computed tomography or, how about this one, extrapleural pneumonectomy—EPP for short. All of these words became a part of my every day vocabulary when I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in 2005. We heard the word cancer first. Then Mesothelioma. And finally the words extrapleural pneumonectomy.

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From the Heart

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 7/6/2012

My heart broke again today. Sometimes I don't know if there is anything left to break. It has been broken so many times.

When I was diagnosed, I was thrust into this alternate universe of mesothelioma. For the first year, it was all about me; my surgery, my treatment, my health. But I had met two other patients that were going through the same things, so I was not alone. It was then I became aware of so many more people suffering. Every trip to Boston, I met someone new-- the elderly couple from Utah; the too-young man from New Jersey; the handsome, young father of two vivacious boys from Texas who’s wife also happens to be a Heather. By getting to know this man and his wife, my disease became more about others and my heart grew by leaps and bounds. The love for this family from Texas forever stamped on my heart-- I celebrated every victory with them. But the cancer came back and, sadly within a year, he died. That was the first time my heart broke. I cried for days for this family. I vowed to make a difference. I vowed to be a prayer warrior. I vowed to be strong.

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I Have Cancer? Part 8: "Cancer Camp"

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 6/11/2012

Shannon's House Shannon's House-- or "Cancer Camp".

“Cancer Camp” is what my sister affectionately refers to the days we spent at Shannon’s House that cold February in 2006. We had a room on the first floor toward the back. It was a small room with two mostly comfortable twin beds, a huge closet and a private bathroom. I had packed a fleece blanket that my mom had made for me and brought it with to use in the hospital, and I was so glad to have it with me while I was at the house. It was a little piece of home that I had while healing. She had also made my sister one, and so we both had our blankets from mom with us for “Cancer Camp”

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I Have Cancer? Part 7: My Hospital Stay

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 4/30/2012

ICU Day 3 Day 3 in ICU- sitting in a chair!

The entire 11th floor of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is dedicated to thoracic patients. They have lung transplant patients, collapsed lung patients, esophageal cancer patients and, of course, extrapleural pneumonectomy or EPP patients like myself. The nurses and residents are highly skilled and know exactly what to do to care for us.

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My Visit in Boston with Dr. David Sugarbaker and a Fellow Mesothelioma Patient

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 4/27/2012

Dr. Sugarbaker and I Dr. David Sugarbaker and I.

On April 24th, I had my bi-annual check up in Boston with Dr. David Sugarbaker. It’s been 6 1/2 years since my diagnosis. It has been 6 years and 3 months since my subsequent surgery to have the tumor and my lung taken out—wow! I get giddy when I think about it. The few weeks before my appointments I usually suffer from what I call “Scanxiety,” or this anxiousness that comes before the scans to see if “it” came back.

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I have Cancer? Part 6: The Surgery

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 3/22/2012

Heather ready for surgery

My surgery was scheduled for Thursday, February 2nd, 2006, at 7:30 a.m. Cameron and I arrived in Boston on the 31st of January to get settled in and get all the pre-op testing done. All of that was scheduled on Feb 1st. It was a whirlwind day.

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Throw Your Fears to the Fire!

  • Author: Heather Von St. James
  • Date: 1/30/2012

LLD Display

Lungleavin Day was born out of necessity. It came about as a way to see light in a very dark time in our lives, and as way to conquer the fear that so often accompanies a cancer diagnosis. Below is the story of its origins and what it means to us today.

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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

Read more about Heather »

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