Heather Von St. James had only recently given birth to her first child at the young age of 38, when it was discovered that she had mesothelioma. In 2007, she sought out the world-renowned mesothelioma specialist, the late Dr. David Sugarbaker. On February 2nd, 2007, he performed an extrapleural pneumonectomy on her, which involved the removal of her entire left lung, the pleura, a rib, and the pericardium and left half of her diaphragm both of which were replaced with surgical gore-tex. Chemotherapy and radiation followed; and while she endured all this, and to the present day, she met and encouraged other mesothelioma victims and their families. In 2012, she started blogging and has appeared as a guest blogger, podcast guest, and peer reviewer for The Congressionally Directed Medical Review Panel in the USA, which directs funding for rare diseases. She continues to advocate for continued funding for research for mesothelioma and making people aware of the dire legacy of asbestos throughout the world.
But living with only one lung isn’t easy; and scanxiety is a very real thing. True to her indefatigable and kind nature, she also helps other mesothelioma victims to cope with the disease. Heather likes to say: “When hope is in the equation, the odds don’t matter.” She continues to defy those odds and will speak of her experience and her hope for the future.