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:
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??
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.
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!