Heather Von St. James had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl and was settling in as a new mom – and then she received news that would change her life.
She was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given just 15 months to live.
A rare and aggressive form of cancer, mesothelioma is caused specifically by exposure to asbestos. This naturally occurring mineral is now classified as a known carcinogen, but the substance is still found in many homes, schools and commercial buildings. It was once used in common household appliances like toasters, hairdryers and over 3,000 other products. Even though it hasn’t been used regularly in 30 years, it still remains the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States.
While mesothelioma often sits dormant for decades, some young people like Heather are diagnosed after second hand exposure to asbestos. The cancer attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium, and 80% of cases occur in the lining of the lungs.
Heather was determined to fight, and was able to undergo a lung transplant. Today, she’s a thriving survivor and celebrating life with her husband and Lily Rose, now 8. Not only did mesothelioma change her life, it also changed her life’s mission. Today, she advocates awareness about this very preventable disease and the dangers of asbestos.
September 26th marks the 10th Annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day, and it’s an important opportunity to educate and protect yourself against asbestos. If you live in the United States, you can work within your community to drive more focus against a product that is still not banned there. It’s time to give a voice and support to innocent victims like Heather.
For more information about the work Heather is doing and how you can help, visit http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather/.