Interview with Heather Von St. James

Hi all! I want to give a big thank you to Heather Von St. James  for agreeing to do an interview for Project Light to Life. Heather is a wife, mother, and a mesothelioma survivor. When her daughter was 3 1/2 months old, she was diagnosed with this cancer, which is both rare and deadly, and given 15 months to live. Seven years have passed and today, on Mesothelioma Awareness Day, she is trying to raise awareness of this disease. Heather blogs for the Huffington Post, is a mesothelioma research funding advocate, and speaker for both the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

Check out my interview with this very inspiring woman below, along with her website:

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1). You have been through so much, and yet, you are still doing so many successful things. You are a mesothelioma survivor and research funding advocate, conference speaker for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organaztion and Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a writer for The Huffington Post, as well as a mom. What would you say to someone who says that one person cannot make a difference?

One person can start a movement. One voice can make a lot of noise and spread their message farther than you think.  Just try it, and before long, one person turns into 100, then 1000, the possibilities are endless.  I started out just wanting to share my story and simply spread hope. I now understand what one person can do, and when others help that one person amplify their message, there is no telling what can happen. 

2). Even after all of your accomplishments, what is one thing you would like to accomplish that you have not yet done?

There is so much more.  Until people stop saying meso what?? Or giving blank looks when I tell them of my diagnosis, or the comment about the TV commercials stop – my work is far from done. Oh, and I would LOVE to be on The Ellen Degeneres show 🙂 Hey, a girl can dream can’t she??

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3). Is there anyone who inspires you and why?

My mom.  There are many people who inspire me, but my mom always comes to my mind first.  She and my dad were married so young.  She started working overnight shifts at work, and before long, worked her way up into management. She never compromised her integrity or beliefs to get to where she is and always sticks to her guns on what she knows is right,  She is a spiritual powerhouse and has more get up and go than most women her age.  She is amazing. I love my mom. 

4). As you were going through the many obstacles that come with being diagnosed with a deadly disease, was there anyone or anything you looked to for hope and why?

As silly as this may sound to some people, I looked to my little girl. I would look at her playing, and know no matter what I would be around to raise her.  When I was diagnosed, there was no one I knew that survived long term, but after getting involved with the Mesothelioma Foundation, I met a couple of women, Marlyn Landin, who is a 13 year survivor, and Bonnie Anderson, an 11 year survivor. It was after I finished all of my treatments, but it helped me to see that there are survivors and I would be one of them.

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Heather Lily 1

 4). What would you like people to know about mesothelioma?

It is not about the commercials on TV, or about the lawsuits, or the lawyers. It is about very real people, innocent people who were just doing their job, hugging their dad, or just doing home improvement.  It’s the people who suffer needlessly because this was 100% preventable. Asbestos exposure is the culprit, and as of right now, is not banned in the US.  This needs to change. 

5). Tell me a little bit about your campaign. How can people help?

Until people are aware of what mesothelioma is, or how you get it, nothing will change. My hope is in the next couple of years, funding will improve to help find a cure. I am asking people to donate their social media status on September 26, “In Honor of #MesoAwarenessDay, I’m giving my voice to the victims”. I hope it starts a conversation. The more people who are aware of the disease, the more potential lives that could be saved. People can go to my web page and read more about mesothelioma, and there are links there to The Meso Foundation and ADAO as well.

6). Is there anything that you would like to add? 

My deepest gratitude goes out to you, and your willingness to help!! Mesothelioma needs more awareness, and a piece such as this, helps spread the word. We WILL see change!! Thank you!

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30 Responses to Interview with Heather Von St. James

  1. Ranting Crow says:

    Wow I mean really wow. They still use Asbestos? Thats a material banned here for many many years cause it also cause cancer as well according to researchers. I had a job where you was dressed in a biohazard suit just to clean it up from a home.
    That it is still being used is a crime when you know the dangers of it..
    Thank you for sharing this interview and her story.

  2. FeatherMoon says:

    Lovely interview and thank you for bringing this to light…

  3. btg5885 says:

    Thanks for sharing. Asbestos is still not banned in the US? That is very troubling.

  4. brolfs says:

    Awesome interview/story. Thanks for sharing!

  5. KidazzleInk says:

    Good on Heather for her determination and courage in the face of this horrible disease. She appears so strong and so determined…and she is still so young. I wonder if they will ever find a cure for this terrible disease.

  6. potretbikers says:

    Nice sharing, very amazing 😀

  7. Jim Bradrick says:

    How did you come to know of Heather and were you aware of the existence of mesothelioma? Also thanks for posting this, sometimes I get stuck in my own little negative world and becoming aware that there are other people dealing with more than I brings about a welcome shift of awareness.

    • Hi! I actually did not know about mesothelioma before and how it is linked to asbestos, though I did know a bit about asbestos and its dangers. Heather reached out to me because she is trying to start a movement in which she helps raise awareness of this disease. And I completely know what you mean; her story really taught me how silly it is when I sweat the little things!

  8. swedenole13 says:

    Awesome post and interview. What an excellent outlook on life she has. I too am very surprised that asbestos has not been banned in the US. Every home repair or ‘reno’ where asbestos is suspected (here in Canada) or encountered requires such strict regulations and as Ranting Crow relates, workers in biohazard suits must go in to get rid of it. This was a wonderful thing for you to do to bring this to the attention of folks. Education and advertising works wonders. Great post!

  9. Thanks so much for another interesting interview. She has a radiance that is wonderful. Good work, both of you!

  10. Keith Maginn says:

    Great interview and very inspiring story. I have no doubt that Heather’s positive attitude and willingness to help others and spread awareness has had a direct influence on her health.

  11. Margo Blue says:

    Love it! Both of you are amazing! 🙂

  12. poetinjena says:

    Beautiful people!
    Great post!

  13. Tamara says:

    Yes, the US needs to ban this along with a lot of other things – GMOs, toxic chemicals in our personal care products. What a great interview, and an amazing woman! Thank you.

  14. floczok says:

    What an amazing, brave woman. Thank you very much for posting this and teaching me something new today. I might just do some more research on Mesothelioma and try to base a story on it in the future. So thank you for the inspiration as well!

  15. eddymontana says:

    I work in construction and know too well the dangers of mesothelioma… The invisible killer.. Keep up the good work!

  16. Pingback: Cancer Story #1–Heather von St. James-Mesothelioma Survivor | Crazywonderfullife

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