“With hope, the odds don’t matter.” (A story and touching video surrounding Heather von St. James’ fight and VICTORY over mesothelioma.)

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In 2005, Heather von St. James was just 36 when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer that typically ends a person’s life within 2 years. At that time of her diagnosis, she had a 3 1/2 month old baby girl named Lily. In February 2006, she underwent “extensive thoracic surgery, known as extrapleural pneumonectomy, with adjuvant intra-operative heated chemotherapy under the care of thoracic surgeon, Dr. David Sugarbaker at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. She was declared cancer-free later that year and survives today.

Von St. James’ own experience with the disease is clinically unique, as malignant mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer typically diagnosed in older patients that, even with treatment, still possesses only a 6-9 month median survival rate. Mesothelioma, commonly caused by exposure to asbestos, typically only manifests after a 25-30-year latency period following exposure.

Today, Heather serves as a mesothelioma research funding advocate and conference speaker for both the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.”

Heather reached out to me to share her story here. She shared that her “journey with cancer was a terrifying one and I’d like to turn my pain into purpose and become someone that other people can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like my own.” She made a video and wants to share it as a tool to “raise awareness of this horrible little known cancer that is such a deadly killer (and sadly, 100% preventable).”

You know I had to share it.

I wanted to share it not only because of Heather and her journey, but because of my journey and your journey. I know that many of you have loved ones that have dealt with cancer and some of you have dealt or are dealing with cancer at this very minute. I know all too well that not all stories end up like Heather’s. I have friends who have lost children, friends that have lost spouses and I have lost many people I loved, as well.

But, I know there is hope.

My time at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, the number one cancer center in the world, as a speech pathologist was a life-changing experience. I have looked into many sad and hurting eyes, but have seen hope and victory there, as well.

Just like I see in Heather’s eyes in this video.

Share it if you feel led to do so. It’s like a virtual hug.

Share.

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