Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mesothelioma and Heather's Story

So I am helping a cancer survivor with an awareness campaign today. She is approaching her 10 year survival marker (YAY!!!) and is celebrating by trying to spread the word about the cancer and its treatment by sharing her story. Since two of my grandparents lost cancer battles, I felt it was a good cause to help spread the word for.

For starters, you probably are wondering what the heck Mesothelioma IS. I know I didn't know until Heather approached me about helping her out.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body's internal organs, known as the mesothelium. Pleural (or lung) is the most common sort (about 70%) but if can also be in the abdomen (peritonial) or heart (pericardial).

Asbestos exposure increases risk and treatment runs the same gamut as most cancers: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy. If you want to know more about the cancer broadly, this website is helpful.

Most cancers have pretty good survival rate for stage two or lower—even stage three, depending on the cancer, but this one, unless caught in stage one, is typically less than a two year survival prognosis, though cases are different. [For reference, stage one is small and localized, stage 2 is larger and starting to spread, stage three means it has spread to another organ or system and stage four is fully systemic.]

In 2005 Heather Von St. James was given just 15 months for her own diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma—she'd given birth to her daughter just three months earlier and she found the odds unacceptable... but you should probably hear her story from her... Heather's Video.

Take a few minutes to give it a watch and share the story. People with early asbestos exposure should be particularly vigilant.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Scary if you don't catch it soon enough. And often cancer isn't detected until you start feeling bad. Glad Heather beat the odds.

Mason Canyon said...

A very moving story. Wonderful that Heather beat the odds. It's scary to know that just wearing her dad's coat with asbestos on it lead to her cancer.

Diana Wilder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana Wilder said...

Just saw the video. What a wonderful lady! And what a wonderful family! I've shared it.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Thanks for the informative post. My grandfather died from it in the late 70's in England. I didn't really understand how he got the disease, so thank you for the link.

Jan Morrison said...

Those interested in this disease could also read the fabulous novel 'So Much for That' by Lionel Shriver (she also wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin).
Thank you for hosting this, Tartlette. And thanks to you Heather for sharing your story. It is a devastating disease and people need to know about it.

Misha Gericke said...

Sigh. Asbestos is really one of those things I wish people never found a use for.

Shah Wharton said...

Cancer is still so scary! Thank heaven Heather beat the odds! :)