Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Real Women, Real Lives - Meet Heather Von St.James, Mesothelioma Cancer Survivor

Real Women, Real Lives

We are surrounded by inspirational women on a daily basis, they are on the television the radio, or they've written the books we buy or the articles/blog posts we read.  It's easy to put a celebrity on a pedestal and desire their lifestyle, power and determination, but we don't need to turn to the glossy magazines, or the big screen, to find inspirational women who can motivate us to succeed.  They live next door, work alongside us, talk to us at the supermarket.
I wanted to highlight these incredible individuals on my blog.  Women who have succeeded on their chosen path, or turned misfortune into positivity.  Ladies who have conquered illness or gone above and beyond to help others and make a difference.  They are your friend, co-worker and neighbour.  I am honoured to be able to introduce a host of remarkable women for my new feature, Real Women, Real Lives.   Women who are happy to share their motivational journey and the inspiration behind their success.  I hope you enjoy this feature, and as always please feel free to leave us a comment below.

Meet Heather Von St.James, Mesothelioma Cancer Survivor.

For many of us, February is a cold and miserable month that must be suffered through to reach the bounty of Spring that follows.  Today, on my new feature, Real Women, Real Lives, I am joined by a special guest who has this February marked on her calendar as an exceptional month.

Heather Von St.James, was given just fifteen months to live back in 2005.  She was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, cancer that cost Heather her left lung.  At the age of 36 and only three months after giving birth to her beautiful daughter, Lily Rose, she received the life-altering diagnosis.

“I had malignant pleural mesothelioma.  The blank look on my face told him I had no idea what I was up against…

…The doctor asked me if my dad was a miner or if he had ever worked with asbestos.  I saw myself as a child, wearing my father’s work jacket, white and crusty from drywall dust.  The cancer was in the lining of my left lung.”

Faced with surgery, Heather tried to wrap her head around the fact that she had cancer.  She faced an uncertain future and the possibility that she may never see her daughter grow up.  Everything she read confirmed what the doctors had been telling her; she would be dead in fifteen months.

Brushing aside the tears and loss of control, Heather was able to take command of her fear, reciting one of my favourite acronyms; FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Read.

“If you take a long hard look at fear that is exactly what it is.  It builds up to eclipse every rational thought, and when it comes time to face those fears, you realise that they are not what you thought.

When I faced my fears, I found out I was stronger than I ever imagined.”

Heather encourages people to face their fears.  She still has concerns that her cancer may return, or that her husband or daughter may get sick, but she doesn’t let these fears control her.

There is a beautiful website where Heather shares her story in the hope that her journey will help others who are coping with the same symptoms and frightening experience.  The site tracks her incredible story from the fear and denial, through the treatment, loss, and setbacks, and eventually to survivorship.  It is a brave and insightful story, and I urge everyone to read it – Beating the Odds.

This February marks a special anniversary for Heather, as she is now a ten-year mesothelioma cancer survivor.  It is her aim to raise awareness about mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

On average, the 3,000 people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, are given ten months to live.  That’s just three-hundred days!

For more information on mesothelioma cancer, please visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

You can also follow Heather on Facebook and Twitter.

“When hope is in the equation, the odds don’t matter.” I truly believe that, and I plan on being around for many more years to come.  Heather Von St. James


  1. This is great idea - and Heather is an amazing woman.

    1. Thanks, Julia. Heather is an inspiration to us all, I'm so glad you enjoyed reading her story.

  2. Very inspirational story. Stay strong Heather. Yes, fear is a huge barrier for many of us when it comes to a lot of things. I didn't realise that it was until I recently started listening to Louise Hay to help overcome some health issues of my own. Thank you Shelley & Heather.