Guest Post - Sharing Hope

Guest Post by Heather Von St James:
Sharing Hope Through My Battle with Mesothelioma

I try to maintain a positive attitude, with a glass half full perspective. My optimistic view earns me a reputation of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, and has never come handier than when I received a frightening cancer diagnosis at 36 years of age. My only child was just 3 ½ months old when I received the news.

Nov. 21, 2005 I was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. It’s not something anyone expects to hear, especially during the best and most joyful years of motherhood. I couldn’t believe I was hearing the words, ‘You have cancer.’ What would I do? Curse God? Live in self-pity, asking, ‘Why me?’ Give up? I needed to face the news head on, ready to fight! My rose colored glasses were no longer just a luxury but a necessity, if I wanted to live to raise my beautiful daughter.

Anyone who has experienced a battle with cancer would agree that it’s a double-edged sword. It is the worst thing that can happen, yet a good thing, if you can believe it. It has changed me forever, for the better, though some might doubt. Perhaps it was my decision not to live as a victim. Making light of a terrible situation allowed me to conquer fear, especially when I dedicated myself to helping others facing a cancer diagnosis. Hope is one of the first losses that accompany a mesothelioma diagnosis, but my fight could restore it to me and to others. I looked for good, and found it.

Referred to one of the leading mesothelioma doctors in the world, I received the encouragement from this expert that I could win my fight and beat this obstacle. When I learned that my surgery was scheduled for Groundhog’s Day, 2006, I dubbed my tumor Punxsutawney Phil. We renamed the day Lungleavin Day, the day my lung would leave my body. Each year, we celebrate this day on the first weekend of February, a celebration of life and of the conquering of my fear. We celebrate the good that comes from bad situations. We celebrate the hope that continues to shine!

My diagnosis has led to my getting to know many wonderful people. Some of the strongest, most amazing people have crossed my path on this journey. I have met and joined the ranks of others who battle valiantly against the darkness of mesothelioma, those committed to bringing awareness of the disease to others. They are the friends and family members of those who have been touched by this disease, they are passionate, and I call them friends. Without my own struggle with cancer, my life would be void of these precious people. Now, though, my life is purpose filled. My desire is to continue to bring hope to those who have need.


  1. Love this post, thanks so much for sharing and spreading the hope :)

  2. That is what my MIL passed from 13 years ago. I think today with the medical advancements she would have been better off and had more of a fighting chance. So glad you are still hear for your family. Gets you thinking about us just not knowing the time we have left.

  3. I so can relate but I struggle with a different diagnosis and am facing a possible heart transplant. Through my journey I have met so many kind and wonderful ppl who are going through the same thing. Your statement its a double edge sword, hits home.

  4. Thanks for sharing this difficult time in your life .....you are in my thoughts and prayers! I try to keep my rose glasses on everyday! Makes life so much more special!


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