Archived Story

Hope lifts all during matters of life or death

Published 9:41am Monday, June 3, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Hope. Hope is a powerful word. One of the definitions of hope is: to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. Hope keeps people moving forward. Hope keeps people alive. Hope in one person inspires another to keep hoping with the expectation of fulfillment.

Julie Seedorf
Julie Seedorf

Recently I received an email message from a woman by the name of Heather Von St. James. She asked me to put her video of hope on my blog. I watched the video and was very moved.

Heather is a 44-year-old mother of a, as Heather describes her, quirky 7-year-old by the name of Lily. When Lily was 3 1/2 months old Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos and it kills most people within two years.

I actually knew about this type of cancer as my uncle developed it. The only person on my mom’s side of the family that has had cancer. Heather’s father was a construction worker, and she used to wear his jacket after his workdays. My uncle was also an owner of a construction company where he was exposed to asbestos.

Heather is still alive after intense treatment seven years later. Heather is instilled with hope, and she is trying to turn the pain that she went through into purpose. Those are her own words.

Heather is a courageous person. As I was listening to Heather’s story I was very touched by what I was listening to. It brought to my mind another courageous person that I am close to, my friend Jan.

Jan has been living with and battling ovarian cancer for at least 18 years. Jan lives a life of hope, too, and shares that hope with all who know her. She has been an inspiring influence in my life and the life of others.

Jan has almost died several times. She has gone through grueling treatments, surgeries and hospitalizations and through it all I have never heard her complain. I have never seen her in a bad mood, and I have never known a time when she is not encouraging others with her kindness and wisdom. Jan is a quiet person and has deep faith in God. She does not shout things from the rooftop but she leads us all by example.

One time when I was battling a small illness I asked her how she did it. She told me that at times you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get through, and so I did. If Jan could do it, so could I.

When I first met Jan I didn’t know if I wanted to be her friend. This was about 18 years ago. You see I had lost two of my good friends recently to cancer. One was a lifelong childhood friend, Karen, again if I remember right, ovarian cancer, and I was still grieving for her. Another was my neighbor Orrie, and I was there to cry with her as she battled the tough disease of breast cancer and bone cancer. I didn’t know if I could handle another death of a friend at that point and I knew ovarian cancer always seemed to leave people with little choices and a short life after diagnosis.

I am so thankful I didn’t let those feelings stop my friendship with Jan. I would have missed one of the most important influences of my life.

You only have to watch a Relay for Life in any town and be inspired by all the hope that is on that track from cancer survivors and their families and friends. Hope inspires, hope breaks down walls, hope helps us to put one foot in front of the other and carry on.

Heather Von St. James wants everyone to know more about her story and mesothelioma. That is Heather’s way of giving hope to the world. Jan gives hope to the world by leading quietly with example. Each of them are giving hope to the world in a different way. There are many more people out there with stories of hope to tell about illness, tragedy and life. Look for them. They may help you take and put one foot in front of the other when you feel you can’t go another step in this life.

Heather’s story can be read at or on my blog at


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at