Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MOM Heather: Asbestos Awareness Week

We've entered another month, and I have another amazing MOM to introduce to you! This is the first MOM I have interviewed whom I didn't already know, so I am allowed the opportunity to get to know her and be inspired right along with you. 

Heather Von St. James stumbled across my blog and contacted me last month to ask if I would be willing to assist her in spreading the news about Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1-7), and I am honored to do so.  Here on Momster Mash, the entire MONTH of April is being dedicated to asbestos awareness as we get to know Heather and her story. 
This February, Heather's father passed away due to Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma.  Although there is no specific way of proving a link, Heather is certain her father's carcinoma was directly related to his exposure to asbestos, due to his line of work in construction. 

When she was a young girl, Heather cherished the warmth and comfort of her father's work jacket, and would wear it any time she could when outside in the "bitter cold of South Dakota".  No one realized the danger of it at that time, but that work jacket was covered in dry wall dust...covered in asbestos.  Each time Heather wrapped herself in the comforting heavy nylon of her father's work jacket, she breathed in more and more asbestos. 

Fast forward about 30 years to 2005, Heather gave birth to her beautiful daughter Lily Rose, but felt "like crap".  She was having trouble breathing and was losing 5-7 pounds per week.  After many tests and ruling out other simple explanations, she was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma, of which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.  At the age of 36, and just three months after bringing her daughter into this world, she was faced with a dire diagnosis.  Heather was given 15 months to live without a drastic and "relatively new surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy".

Most people who receive a Mesothelioma diagnosis do not live past two years, but as you have probably realized, it is now nine years later and Heather is still alive!  She is still here to grow old with her husband, to guide and mold her daughter, and to love on her into teenage years and beyond.  Heather is still here to be one of the few mesothelioma survivors to share her story; a story of faith, hope and courage.

Heather is now dedicated to spreading awareness on the dangers of asbestos, educating others on minimizing exposure risk, taking steps to getting this lethal (and still legal) material banned, advocating for more research and treatment options, and offering hope to others diagnosed with mesothelioma. 

Stay tuned as Heather shares more of her story with us throughout the month of April, and to learn what you can do to partner with her and her mission of Asbestos Awareness; spread the word!  Be sure to sign up by email in the side bar ---> to have each post delivered straight to your inbox and 'like' Momster Mash on Facebook so you don't miss a Momster!

You can connect wither Heather on Facebook and learn more about mesothelioma on  The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog.  You can also watch Heather tell her story in this video.