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Earlier in the week I shared Jack and Annie’s story in honor of Gold in September: G9.  I ended the post with a plea for action and a request to hear your stories.  Shortly after publishing the G9 post, an email landed in my box from Cameron Von St. James and a spark of serendipity ignited.

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You see, Cameron’s wife, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; an extremely rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Three months after giving birth to a baby girl they named Lily, Heather and Cameron were delivered life-shattering news. Doctors predicted Heather would have 15 months to share with Lily.

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A life-saving surgery that included the removal of one lung altered Heather’s journey.  Today I am honored to introduce you to Heather in recognition of Mesothelioma Awareness Day (9.26).  Since Heather’s recovery (she is one of the few survivors), the Von St. James family has been dedicated to one mission: spreading awareness.

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Heather and Lily Von St. James.  Photo credit of Cameron St. James.

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 Did you know?

– The median survival rate for patients diagnosed with mesothelioma is about twelve months.

– Medical experts consider mesothelioma one of the most aggressive of all cancers. The latency period from exposure to onset of symptoms can be up to 50 years.

– Expect to see a higher incidence of mesothelioma diagnoses in the coming years due to exposures caused by national crises such as September 11, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy. The Twin Towers contained 400,000 tons of asbestos, which was dispersed in the air of Manhattan when the towers collapsed. Hurricanes also spread large amounts of asbestos, exposing both victims and those helping with clean up.  Source for preceding facts: click here.

Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer.  To learn more, visit Heather’s website, Dying to be Heard.

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If you are a new visitor: welcome!  I love to weave a song suggestion into every post.  Isn’t life one big mix tape (ok, playlist)?  Today’s song of the day: Heaven’s Here On Earth, by Tracy Chapman. The lyrics are poetic and powerful and they just seem like the perfect accompaniment for Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

“I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise
Of ordinary people leading ordinary lives.
Filled with love, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice
Heaven’s in our hearts.” – Tracy L. Chapman

All photos courtesy of my iPhone during an early morning run last Friday: Sweet Serendipity!  (Actually that is another terrific song by Lee DeWyze).  Oh, and rewind to the photo of the raindrop please.  Did you see the sunrise resting inside that tiny drop?  Delightful outcome without intention (isn’t that the definition of serendipity).

 As always, thanks for tuning in! Embrace 9.26!