Through her looking glass... Heather Von St James

Monday, 7 April 2014

Heather and her daughter Lilly
  Apart from feeling really cross with myself for not getting this post up last week, I am delighted to introduce you to a lady who I know you will feel just as amazed and inspired by as I am. Heather Von St James is a true survivor and I have had the pleasure to get to know her a little over the last few weeks, Heather contacted me asking if I could help raise awareness of Mesothelioma and the use of Asbestos, Heather lives in America where it is still currently legal to use asbestos which is the cause of the illness she has suffered and fought after being given only 15 months to live. Her story is truly an inspiration and you can read more here
 
Heather has kindly agreed to share her more about her life and her wisdom and is next person to be featured in my  "Through Her Looking Glass.." series, I hope you enjoy today's interview.

Question 1
How do you start your day? Can you tell us more about the first 3 things you have to do to get your day started? 
It depends on the day of the week. On the days my husband works, I get to wake him up at 5:55 am, and then crawl into bed until 7:30. On days he doesn't work, I stay in bed until 7:30 and I then get my kiddo up, love on the dogs and cats. I usually snuggle the kiddo for awhile, then crawl out of bed and start the day. The next thing is, I make beeline to the Keurig coffee maker to brew a strong cup of coffee. I can't function until I have that first sip of steaming coffee. After dropping Lily off at school, I generally take a trip to Starbucks.  That is a typical start to my day. 

Question 2
Share your favourite piece of wisdom and why it means something to you.
''Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"  It is a quote from my favorite movie, Auntie Mame.  I like it so much I had it tattooed on my left arm- it covers pretty much my entire arm. It really embodies what I think about life. So many people get caught up in the petty small things, that they don't see all that life has to offer them! I take joy in everything. I feel and embrace all my emotion- I laugh, I cry, I love life. I try not to let the trivial things bother me because in the big picture does it really matter if Starbucks messed up my order? No, it's just coffee and can be fixed. It is the way I approach everything. 

Question 3
What is your go to thing for comfort when it all gets to much? 
My bedroom and my bed. It is my refuge. We recently remodeled our bedroom and made it a lovely, airy room. I have a huge, king size bed and I love expensive sheets. When I am having a down day, (yes, they do happen!) I crawl in bed and turn on something funny on TV. I find I usually feel better after awhile.

Question 4
Who are the women that inspire you?
Number one is my Mom. She is one of the most wise, strong, and loving women I know. I admire everything about her. She is who she is because of her tremendous faith. I strive to be more like her. She has a heart as big as all outdoors and is the best role model I could ever ask for. I'm truly blessed to have her as my mom.
Linda Reinstein from The Asbestos Disease awareness Organization is another woman whom I admire to no end. She lost her husband to mesothelioma 8 years ago, and has made it her life's mission to educate people on the dangers of asbestos. She is a mighty powerhouse and am so honored to call her friend. 

Question 5
How do you see yourself and what makes up your sense of identity?  
I wear many hats. But what doesn't change is the person wearing those hats.  I'm a mom. a wife, a survivor, a motivator and inspiration.. I love to help people and really want to make a difference.  My sense of identity ? Hmm.. physically it is my hair, and my tattoos.. I have the trademark white faux hawk, and both arm covered in colorful tattoos.. But what sets me apart is probably my quiet confidence and my ability to tell the truth to people. What you see with me is what you get.. I have no hidden agenda.. but there will always be a part of me that still sees the awkward 8th grader who was a little overweight, had crooked teeth and bad hair when I look in the mirror.. I sometimes surprise myself at what looks back. I'm a bit of a goofball, and try not to take things too seriously. I'm an optimist, and I think that shines through in all I do, 

Question 6
Do you have a favourite dish or recipe that makes you feel good or gives you a much needed boost?
My dad used to make this stuff called sauerkraut bread. It sounds horrible but it is soooo good. You take bread dough, roll it out into a big circle, and on the inside, spread sauerkraut and Italian sausage mixed together, add salt and pepper, roll it up and then bake it. My dad recently passed away, so I need to learn to make it if I ever want it again. 

Question 7
What's challenging you right now?
Dealing with the loss of my Dad. It's still so fresh. He passed away on February 27th, the day after his birthday. He was only 71. He was diagnosed with clear cell renal carcinoma back in November during a surgery to fuse some vertebrae. By the time they found the cancer, it was everywhere. He went very fast, and for that I am thankful, but wow I miss him. There is a huge hole in my life. Everyday is a new emotion surrounding his loss. I'm learning how to deal with it, and I know it will get easier. I do know I'm relieved he is no longer suffering. My dad was loved by many, many people, and I will always cherish those last days that we got to spend together. I was with him, holding his hand when he passed away.

Question 8 
Tell us more about your latest or next project.
Right now, Asbestos Awareness Week is going on, and I am inviting people to donate their social media status to help bring about awareness. Asbestos is still NOT banned in the US and is being imported and used every day. It is so dangerous and causes such suffering. There needs to be stricter regulations on the substance and an all and all ban. That is going on right now.
As far as other future projects, I'm thinking of a book. It is something that has been in the back of my mind for a few years, and perhaps this is the year I decide to actually do it. 
 
You can find out more about Mesothelioma and read Heather's blog at Mesothelioma.com
You can also connect with Heather on Twitter and Google+ and her Facebook page
If you want to know more about Mesothelioma and live in the UK then do check out the Mesothelioma UK website 
 
 I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post and Heather's courageous story so do leave a comment below! 

2 comments:

  1. It is such an inspiration to see and hear stories of survivors from terminal illness. It makes me appreciate life and gives me motivation to do mine better. I also admire her everyday routine which I can definitely relate. With regard to asbestos, I always make sure that everything in the house are free from it including the raw materials (plywoods, etc) to ensure the safety of me and my family. I do hope most companies and manufacturers will get to realize its potential threats to human health. Thanks for the share!

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  2. Thank you so much for introducing Heather to us Karen! What an amazing lady. I am an optimist too so I love her outlook on life.
    This is a really great post & one thing I've learnt to love about the blogging community, it's about all of us & we're in this life together.

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