Heather’s Story

 

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Mesothelioma. You are familiar with the word, but are you familiar with what mesothelioma is, does, and what causes it?  April 1st-7th is Mesothelioma Awareness Week and I’d like to bring it to the forefront.

As of two weeks ago, I only knew that mesothelioma was linked to asbestos.  The only way I knew that much was from all the years of lawsuit ads that play regularly on television.  Nor did I know about the common products that may contain asbestos.

I recently was introduced to the Von St. James family, a family that are experts on the disease.  Heather Von St. James, was diagnosed with mesothelioma right after giving birth to her daughter.  She also was given a grim prognosis.  Those that are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma rarely beat the disease and it is common to not pinpoint the signs of the disease during the early stages. On average, mesothelioma takes 35-50 years to appear after exposure to asbestos.  Heather was diagnosed at 36 years old, which is extremely young for mesothelioma.

Watch her story below, it has a happy ending. (hint: she is a survivor and is thriving)

Now being introduced to mesothelioma through Heather, I wanted to share her insight directly on Goddess Huntress.

GH/ Your story and outcome are so moving, Heather. It must be so surreal and blissful to have the life you have now.  Positivity is your greatest gift.  How did you maintain your positivity daily as you were going through treatment?

HVStJ/ It wasn’t easy but when it got tough, I would pray and pray some more, I would beg God to give me the strength to get through. Sometimes it was to get through the day, sometimes it was to get through the next minute. I would look at my daughter, this innocent little girl who didn’t ask for a sick mom. I looked forward to the future with her. I saw what she could become, and my attitude would play a big part in who she would develop into.. that right there was reason enough to stay positive.

GH/ Your exposure from asbestos was from your father’s work in construction.  If someone thinks they may have been exposed to asbestos, can they be tested for it?

HVStJ/ Unfortunately there is no test. I wish there was, as it would alleviate a lot of worry. There is such a long latency period between exposure and onset of symptoms that most people aren’t even aware they were exposed until it is too late. It is one of the many horrible things about mesothelioma.

GH/ What are some other common products that may contain that we may not know about?  How has your living environment changed?

HVStJ/ Duct tape, brake pads, joint compound and certain speckling pastes and caulking. It is also in some cement products and roofing products as well.  The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization’s web page has a good list of products.. www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

My living environment has changed a lot. We moved into an old house, and have done a lot of work to either encapsulate old asbestos or have it abated. We have done something to pretty much every part of the house from siding, and roof, to remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms. I know now that no asbestos containing products used on the new parts of my home.

GH/ You are so beautiful, I bet positivity is your biggest beauty secret.  Any way you can bottle that up and put it on store shelves? Ha!  Willing to share a clean beauty secret of yours?

HVStJ/ Aww!!! Thank you!!! My secret? Good genes and a GREAT photographer!! In all seriousness, I was a salon professional before I got sick, so I’ve always been interested in the beauty aspect of things. I’m a total make up and skin care junkie and love products!! I believe looking good; in turn it makes me feel good. I used to go to chemo dressed to the nines and in full make up. I might have been sick, but I was darned if I was going to LOOK sick!  It’s all in the attitude. :)

Sage advice…Positive attitude.

Learn more about mesothelioma and treatment at mesothelioma.com