The Brave Battle And Life Of Mesothelioma Survivor & Inspiration Heather Von St. James – There IS Hope
Cancer has affected all of us in one way or another, whether it was ourselves who had it personally, or a beloved family member or friend. It is the single biggest medical affliction facing people living in the world today, and we do have treatments but still no true cure for any kinds of cancer. There is no miracle pill to date that can just rid you of cancer unfortunately, hence why research is so very important. And there are no vaccines for it available as of now. However, there are survivors out there, and I am here today to talk about one of them. April is National Cancer Control Month. I find that this is a fitting time to discuss the following subject matter.
Online I met a beautiful wife and mother of a little girl whose story touched me so deeply that I really not just wanted but needed to speak about what she went through with the particular type of cancer that she suffered from and why. Also, to help raise awareness and spread some hope through cyber-space and into living rooms around the globe. That I feel is very important.
This woman is a loving wife to her husband every day, she packs up her child’s lunches like any other parent does, kisses her husband off to work and daughter off to school, she drives her daughter here and there like the rest of us do. She has a busy, fulfilling, mostly normal life now. The thing that is very different about her is that she shouldn’t even be here today, or so the doctors told her. This mom is a walking, talking miracle. But she wants you to know that if she can beat the odds so can you. Nothing in life is ever hopeless, no matter how scary and how morbid things may seem at the time.
Her name is Heather Von St. James, and her mission in life to is not only raise awareness but to encourage others by letting them know her story, which you can find her incredible, personal blog right here. ‘The odds’ do not matter. That is her message to you, whether it be cancer or any illness in life. She is a 9 year, almost decade long cancer survivor, now turned cancer research advocate, and the doctors gave her less than 15 months to live. Talk about showing the world that doctors are not gods!
Through her own suffering, her own plight, she found her calling in life – helping others. I think I connect greatly with her because my passion for helping others has always been a huge one. Whether it is to be a voice for bully victims, rape victims or domestic violence victims like myself, we all have our stories, and by sharing them with those who need to hear them, it helps us heal on the inside as well. It also brings hope to hearts that are in need of some positivity. Life can seem so tragic, and we can feel lost in it. There’s so much gloom and doom surrounding us sometimes it is hard to see the light through the tunnel. Heather helps us realize through her own struggles that there is nothing we can’t beat! God bless her!
How it all began
Heather Von St. James developed a rare form of cancer called malignant pleural mesothelioma after she was very innocently exposed to asbestos from her father’s work clothing as a child. What little girl didn’t dress up in mommy’s dresses and daddy’s coats? Who knew? Certainly they did not. The asbestos was on the clothing, and she ended up developing the deadly form of cancer at only 36 years of age. She found out about her diagnosis and grim prognosis when her only child Lily was merely 3 months old. Can you imagine hearing that you are going to die when you are holding a brand new baby in your arms? You want to live forever just to be there for your child. I can only imagine that heartbreak, as I never feared death the way I do now that I am a mom. Before that I really never thought much about it. Now it terrifies me.
Gorgeous mother & child!
But Heather didn’t fall apart, she held together. She kept a positive focus, even though she experienced both good days and bad. She went through a lot to get to where she is at now, but all of these years later she is proof positive that you can survive malignant pleural mesothelioma. You can beat cancer and the odds! She may have lost a lung during her once tedious journey, but she is alive to tell her tale and to now help others. I find her in a word – INSPIRATIONAL!
I have never had cancer, but I have seen miracles happen like Heather has, so I know that her message is true. I came face to face with death 5 times in my life, yet I sit here and live to write another day, nevertheless. (Yup, you read right.. 5!) If doctors were always correct I wouldn’t have made it passed 6 years old. I had a really awful case of the rare disease Reyes Syndrome, which was very deadly back in the early 80’s when I had it because it was a pretty new disease with no real treatments. It still kills today, however, it is even more rare because of Aspirin warnings. They prepared my parents 100% for my absolute demise. I had a 108 fever, which is unheard of. Surely it would damage my brain badly at the very least, but there wasn’t even that optimism. They packed me in ice and told my parents my organs were failing, there were no other options to try, and I was going to die very shortly.
I can imagine hearing that from doctors as a parent because I have been there personally. But here I am now with organs in tact, no brain damage and only a memory of my guardian angel that I met the morning of my miraculous recovery. I met her yet again when I was 15 and was struck by a truck going nearly 70 miles per hour on a highway I was crossing on foot. My shoes remained where I got hit, and I was thrown a nice distance down the road landing right on my head. I should never have survived that accident. Nobody witnessing it thought that I had, much less the fact that in the end I didn’t even break a single bone.
I have other stories about myself, but I just wanted to share a little of why I think it is so important to share stories of hope, even though me and Heather’s situations are totally different, I know what it is like to stare death in the face and beat odds. I know that what does not kill you does in fact make you stronger. She has a message that is so important to share – never give up, never back down, and you are always much stronger than you know!
My son should have passed away by 6 weeks of age they told me, but he lived nearly 10. He was such a fighter, and he did things they said he would never do and was so strong. I was a shy, easily used and abused, low self-esteemed young mother. I believe I would not be alive today if it were not for my son. He gave me so much strength I never knew I had before him. He helped me leave my abuser, and I know I’d have been killed if he never was sent to me. Though I wish God could have taken me instead of him 😥 .
Before sitting in a hospital room watching him cheat death time and again and again, and always with a most angelic smile on his face. He is and always will be my little hero- my miracle boy. If he could be so strong to fight to be here with us, how could I not be strong for him in turn? How could I not be strong now and face the world a much more courageous, changed person.
And doctors gave my friend’s dad (more like my own dad because he raised me more so. I spent much of my youth at his house) has had cancer for some time now. He has long outlived the time that they gave him, and he looks amazing! They are stumped at how well his tests are coming back. I hope he shares the same outcome as Heather. He to has become an advocate, a voice for others also. His unique, mostly self-treatments and refusal of certain usual cancer treatments has doctors and other cancer patients dumbfounded. He really likes to talk and share his ‘course of action’ if you will, against his own cancer that has been working for him very well. I’m always praying for him.
It’s amazing how bad things happen to good people, but when people come out on top, it is almost like they are meant to share with others. They are meant to make a difference after all that they went through. They are compelled to let others know that they are not alone, and that where there is life there is always hope. Heather Von St. James is a woman who is doing just that. Both her and myself just want you to know that there are powers in the universe that are greater than statistics. Nothing is ever without hope.
1 lung, huge heart!
Heather, my thoughts and prayers are with you daily. I hope that people continue to share your story and your light with the world because it is such a bright and inspiring light that shines through you and radiates onto others. Any way me and my family can help, we surely do wish to do so!
If you are in need of personal support, or you just wish to stay in the know about Heather, her personal plight and learn more about her cause you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.