Sunday, September 16, 2012

Guest Post--Mesothelioma Cancer

I was recently contacted by a woman named Heather who was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it, when her first and only baby was only 3 1/2 months old.  Heather beat the odds, and she is happy, healthy, and thriving today, her daughter now 7 years old.  She is trying to turn her pain into purpose through her blog which offers hope to those who have been diagnosed with cancer and educates others about this preventable type of cancer which is caused by asbestos.  Heather asked me to share her story as a "guest post," and I am happy to do so.  Cancer has greatly impacted my life due to my mother's battle and death, and nothing gives me more joy than to see healthy mothers with their daughters!  Isn't this a beautiful photo?

My Mesothelioma Story
Heather Von St. James 

November 21, 2005 was one of the most shattering days of my entire life.  My doctor told me that I had a serious form of cancer that was called malignant pleural mesothelioma.  The cancer was a result of asbestos exposure more than 30-years ago.  I was exposed to asbestos when I was a young child, and my doctor told me that I only had 15-months to live unless I immediately began treatment.

On August 4, 2005, just a short time before my mesothelioma diagnosis, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who we named Lily.  Lily’s birth was one of the happiest days of my life.  After Lily’s birth, I was ecstatic, but I felt lethargic and listless.  I attributed the lack of energy to the baby blues and tried to go back to work.  The symptoms seemed to get worse, and I eventually decided to have a physical.  After numerous tests, my doctor told me the devastating news; I had mesothelioma cancer.

Our friends and family became a part of our village during my pregnancy, and their help was even more important as I began struggling with cancer.  I opted to seek treatment in Boston because I was informed that the city had some of the world’s best mesothelioma experts.  Lily went to live with my parents in South Dakota where I grew up.  The separation broke my heart, but I knew that Lily was in great hands.

On February 2, 2006, I had an extrapleural pneumonectomy.  The doctors removed part of my lung and the surrounding tissue.  I spend 18 days in the hospital recovering from the operation.  A mere two months later, I started chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  During my fight with mesothelioma, my village grew.  Our village began to include many of the families who were in Boston fighting cancer too.  We all supported each other because we knew what it meant to fight for our lives.

My parents and Lily had their own support system in South Dakota.  Many of the children whom I had babysat were grown and took turns watching my daughter.  My parents had full time jobs, and many of their friends took turns watching Lily during the day.  I cannot thank my village enough for the assistance that they offered to me, my husband, Lily and my parents.

My village provided me with strength, and I won the tough battle against mesothelioma.  I used to watch Lily’s growth through pictures, but now I spend time with her every day.  I truly value the time that we have together and realize just how fleeting it is. I will never take my life for granted again because I see just how it can change in seconds.

For more information about Heather's story, go to and watch a touching video about her story here.


  1. Such a touching story and beautiful family!

  2. This makes me want to make sure I am part of people's village whenever I can be.


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