Story of Survival

One of the unexpected gifts of blogging has been the opportunity to connect with people world-wide who have a story to tell. Because I blog on a variety of topics from cancer to culture (and everything in between) I have been privileged to hear a lot of stories. I want to highlight one such story today and with it a link to a blog.

Imagine having a 6-month old baby girl, waking up daily in awe of this gift of life and finding out that you have a rare form of cancer? I think my natural reaction would be to hold my baby, and my breath, praying I would wake up from a bad dream

Heather Von St. James contacted me after I wrote a piece on breast cancer. Through her email I was directed to her site and quickly caught the passion present through cyberspace. Every passion begins with a story and Heather Von St. James is no exception. She is passionate about communicating hope and inspiration to people diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma. Her story is a hard one.

As a 36-year-old with a six month old daughter, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the lining of internal organs. There are three main places where it occurs: the lining of the lung or pleura, the lining of the heart or pericardium, and the lining of the abdominal cavity or peritoneum. Anyone exposed to asbestos could be at risk for this serious illness, and Heather was unknowingly exposed. Heather was diagnosed in 2005, and as of this year is a 6 year cancer survivor. Her story reminds me that everyday heroes are present everywhere. People who are quietly, but passionately, taking their experiences, with all the hard parts as well as joys that are part of them, and making a difference.

Many people go through difficult times, and once they are over, the natural desire is to put them behind us, to move on with life and not have to think about the pain any longer. Heather has chosen to use what was painful in her life to help others – in her words “turn my pain into purpose”. Heather blogs at the Mesothelioma Alliance Cancer Blog. Take a look there where you can read her story. There is also more information available at the blog. If you know of anyone who is struggling with this diagnosis, I know Heather would be more than willing to connect with them.

I share my story as a means of hope and inspiration for others.  As a survivor, it is my duty to turn my pain into purpose and be someone that others can look to in situations like my own.  I want my story to help others overcome their fears when faced with any diagnosis, and to realize that giving up is simply not an option. – Heather Von St. James in The Healthcare Marketer

Thank you Heather – for being willing to step up and out with hope and help.