The mom who beat cancer…

It’s not everyday you get to chat to someone who beat death. Heather contacted me couple months back and asked if I would be interested in sharing her personal story. I just couldn’t refuse because it hit home. Family members on my mom side died from cancer many years back and I knew this would be a story that would inspire many.

Heather is a 9 year cancer survivor who was given a death sentence almost 10 years ago when she was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, just 3 months after having a baby. Her cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos fibers which was on her dad’s construction work jacket. She underwent treatment that involved the removal of her left lung, which ended up saving her life.

She has now dedicated her life to spread awareness of mesothelioma and asbestos.

The mom who beat cancer

1. Could you give a brief introduction of yourself and your family?
My name is Heather Von St. James, I’m a 46-year-old mom to Lily, who is almost 10 and wife to Cameron. We’ve been married a little over 16 years. I’m a blogger and patient advocate, I also am a public speaker and a mesothelioma survivor.

2. Can you describe your experience with mesothelioma?
It was terrifying at first. So many unknowns and the treatment for it is so invasive. Even then, the most that the doctors hoped for quality life extension. The actual treatment phase lasted about a year, from major surgery to remove my left lung and all the surrounding tissue, to chemotherapy and radiation after. During this time, I was trying to raise and care for my infant daughter. She turned 1 between the time I finished chemotherapy and was about to start radiation. It was a very lonely and isolating experience.

With my age, I didn’t know many other young cancer patients, let alone mesothelioma patients, so no one knew what I was experiencing. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, but as the years have gone on, I’ve turned it into something positive. I have found that there is tremendous power in sharing one’s story, and inspiring people is something that comes natural to me.

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Hi, I’m Shan. I’m an entrepreneur and a sucker for good adventures. I was listed in Forbes Africa 30 under 30 2019 and just recently launched my start-up – MomSays.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)
    2015-08-12 / 17:06

    She sounds like an amazing woman. Thank you so much for sharing her story with us today.

  2. 2015-08-12 / 18:44

    This woman is inspiring! I am SO glad she was willing to share her story with everyone. Maybe others like her will not feel as lonely as she did this way.

  3. 2015-08-13 / 00:43

    I’m so glad she decided to share her story. It’s such an inspiration to see someone who faced something so heinous and came out the other side.

  4. sign4baby
    2015-08-13 / 00:57

    I can’t believe that asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. when it is a known carcinogen. Thank you for taking the time to share this cancer survivor story. I think we need to focus on the possibility that comes out of a difficult journey and it appears that she has done that very well.

  5. 2015-08-13 / 03:40

    Thank you for sharing. One day, hopefully all forms of cancer will be treatable. I hope I am around to see that day.

  6. 2015-08-13 / 04:23

    Thank you for sharing your story and inspiration! I have survived cancer twice to date and know that is now how I am going to depart this Earth when I do!

  7. Ricci
    2015-08-13 / 04:29

    Thank you for sharing your story! I love hearing survivor stories, especially when the survivors are younger!!

  8. 2015-08-13 / 05:06

    I can only imagine how it must have felt to hear the diagnosis and then finally be free and clear. This is so good to hear!

  9. 2015-08-13 / 06:33

    What an amazing story! I am so thankful medicine has come so far to help so many women battling breast cancer.

  10. 2015-08-13 / 07:01

    No one wants to hear that they have the dreaded “C.” Two of my cousins are breast cancer survivors and I have seen what they and their families went through. It is difficult, but they need all the support they can get. Glad to see that Heather is back in the pink of health.

  11. 2015-08-13 / 08:26

    Thanks for sharing this story with us. So inspiring. I am sure your story can help others get through.

  12. 2015-08-13 / 12:50

    She would help a lot of people by spreading this awareness about the mesothelioma. Very inspiring story.

  13. 2015-08-13 / 13:55

    Such an amazing story! My father has a friend that just recently passed from the same kind of cancer. Heartbreaking.

  14. 2015-08-13 / 15:28

    What a story. So glad it was shared. My mom passed away from cancer back in 2001. I was 16, she 48. I’ve lost so many to cancer it’s just the worst.

  15. 2015-08-13 / 15:43

    Wow what an inspirational story! I cannot imagine going through this, let alone with a baby!

  16. 2015-08-13 / 17:55

    This is such a heart-warming story. I admire her for sharing her story and for dedicating her life to raise awareness.

  17. Kathy
    2015-08-13 / 18:42

    Such an inspirational story! I could never imagine what someone goes through with cancer. I love to hear stories like this. Very heartwarming.

  18. 2015-08-13 / 20:10

    What an amazing story! I can’t even imagine what that’s like! Thank you for sharing!

  19. upliftingfam
    2015-08-13 / 21:08

    This is an amazing story. I can relate to being sick all the time. It’s never fun.

  20. 2015-08-13 / 21:15

    This is such an amazing story. I can not imagine trying to fight for your life and taking care of a newborn. Thank you for sharing her story.

  21. 2015-08-13 / 22:46

    What a wonderful, inspirational story. Cancer is such a horrible disease and it has taken many people close to me. I have some health issues which puts me at high risk, along with family genetics, for cancer. Inspiring stories like these show me that no matter what the diagnoses, their is always hope.

  22. 2015-08-14 / 04:18

    I had no idea about mesothelioma. This was eye opening. It is awesome to see someone go on to share her story to help others!

  23. 2015-08-14 / 07:45

    It’s always wonderful to hear when someone beats this horrible disease! This goes to show that there is always hope.

  24. manicurator
    2015-08-14 / 08:20

    I really appreciate reading about people who have turned a tragedy or near tragedy into an opportunity to be an advocate.

  25. 2015-08-14 / 15:25

    Glad to hear that you beat cancer. My ex husband had mesotheiloma and lost one of his lungs a few years ago. Thanks for sharing your personal story.

  26. 2015-08-14 / 16:28

    Her battle with cancer is inspiring to people who have health issues and have to fight every day for their lives. She is a very strong lady.

  27. 2015-08-16 / 02:03

    This is an amazing story! I am so glad when I get to read such inspiring words and see all the inspiring people. So much strength and determination!

  28. 2015-08-18 / 03:48

    She is beautiful and her story is amazing! God bless her for beating such a terrible illness and for being a voice of encouragement for others in similar situations.

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