Posted in asbestos, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, mesothelioma

A Survivor’s Tale


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©Unknown

Katherine Keys has been fighting Mesothelioma for 9 years. When she was first diagnosed doctors told her she had less than 2 years. Katherine refused to believe her time was limited and instead decided to fight the cancer. Katherine is convinced that it was her positive attitude and determination to win that has allowed her to survive against the odds.

 At first Katherine thought she had the flu. She was prescribed medication and painkillers but the pain persisted. When the pain was too much to take, Katherine went to the ER, it was there that she discovered she had cancer. Katherine was 49 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 1 pleural Mesothelioma.

For treatment, Katherine had her right lung and the lining of the lung removed, a major surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). After several months of recovery, Katherine began radiation treatments. She had treatments five times per week for several months. Although she had been scheduled for chemotherapy treatments, she was relieved to learn that she didn’t have to have them.

Upon completing her treatments, Katherine attended her regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. At first, they were monthly, then every two months, three months, six months…and now annually. Her follow-up appointments typically consistent of blood tests, a PET scan, x-rays and other tests to confirm that she is still cancer-free.
Katherine was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. They were able to get her financial compensation which helped with her treatments and quality of life.

Today, Katherine feels blessed to be able to spend time with her family and share her story with other people living with mesothelioma. While she has been through a lot and is still challenged by physical pain and limitations after having a lung removed, Katherine sees every day as a gift. She hopes her story brings resilience and positivity to people living with mesothelioma.

Posted in asbestos, awareness, Blessed, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S Kauffman, Heather Von St. James., imogen rayne, mesothelioma, miracle, survial

Mesothelioma Awareness and A Story of Survival


By, Crystal S Kauffman, Staff Writer/Heather Von St. James-Guest Blogger/Collaboration

©Heather Von St. James
©Heather Von St. James

Patients and doctors want to raise awareness for cancer that is caused by asbestos, which was used in factory and other places people worked at for many years of their love. So, Mesothelioma Awareness Day was created and was celebrated on Sept. 26th, 2015. Survivors are happy to be alive. but they are angry that the use of asbestos has not been banned. The fibers are invisible and deadly, yet 30 million pounds are still used by many different businesses.

This dangerous substance is also used in homes, buildings, schools, and commercial buildings all over the world. Additionally, asbestos is the leading cause of cancer in the workplace around the entire United States. The peak of using asbestos was 30 years ago and over 43,000 die each year from exposure the asbestos, which is still in work places like: mills, military, and in old housing units.

Here is a personal story about a spectacular woman named Heather, who is a courageous survivor of this deadly disease. She is on a mission to spread awareness about the disease, in any way she can. Additionally, if her story, can save one person and their family from facing what she went though. Then, she has accomplished her mission to help families to avoid what she has endured once she learned that she had Mesothelioma.

***Personal Story Written from Heather Von St. James***

In 2005, when I was 36 years old, I was diagnosed with pleural Mesothelioma. This was only three months after giving birth to my baby girl Lily. The symptoms I had could have easily been chalked up to postpartum issues. I was tired, I had only gained 5 lbs through the whole pregnancy, and I had difficulty breathing. I was lucky, and I got my diagnosis within two weeks and that is not usually the case for Mesothelioma patients.

My journey then led my husband, newborn baby and I to Boston, and Dr. David Sugarbaker, who was a world renowned surgeon. I had my left lung removed on February 2nd, 2006, and spent 18 days in the hospital afterwards recovering. My husband had to stay home in Minnesota and work, because the bills still needed to be paid. He saw Lily a total of 36 hours in 3 months. It was a big sacrifice but needed to be done for our family.

After going back home, I did 4 rounds of chemo, and 30 sessions of radiation. I finished my last treatment almost a year to date from the onset of my symptoms. The reason I got sick in the first place was from wearing my father’s coat when he got home from work. He worked with drywall and construction, and at the time as a little girl I did not know that his jacket carried harmful asbestos fibers that would ultimately cause my illness many years later. But, here I am.

I am lucky to be here today, and I’ve made it my life goal to be a voice for the victims, the family members who have struggled with this disease and those who know someone battling or who have lost someone to this disease. Asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. or Canada, and can be found in many commercial buildings and products today. I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness, in hopes that one day no one else will have to go through what I did.

***Meet Heather Von St. James on Facebook or Twitter ***

Let’s raise awareness together!

©Heather Von St. James
©Heather Von St. James