Guest Post by Heather Von St. James

Heather emailed me quite some time ago about posting her story on my blog. Unfortunately, with harvest and my typical 2%ness it has taken some time to be able to get around to it. I am glad she was patient. If you would like more information about her, check out her blog. ~2%

Hope In Spite of Mesothelioma

“You have cancer.”

My life was going great. I had a 3 1/2-month-old baby. Well, my life should have been going great. Then, I heard those three fateful words. I had cancer — malignant pleural mesothelioma, in fact. I was sick from a disease caused by asbestos exposure.

Most people wonder how I got it. They think asbestos was banned. Amazingly, it was not. Then, people wonder how I could have come into contact with such a dangerous material. The answer to that question was at home. My father would go to work and come home with asbestos dust on his clothes. His job doing construction, which consisted of drywall taping, mudding and sanding, was exposing him to it. When the asbestos fibers rained on him, they stuck to his clothes. He came home with a white dust that was on him, his jacket, and his car.

The age at which I was diagnosed and my gender were outside of the norm. Most patients at that time were older men who were trade workers. They were plumbers, HVAC workers, mechanics, electricians, soldiers, and military members or vets. Their wives started getting sick too. They were handling the asbestos-covered laundry. They would shake out the clothes, maybe talking or singing as they did it, and breathe in the fibers as they pushed the clothes into the washer.

I am part of the next generation of mesothelioma sufferers. We are part of a trend of young people being diagnosed with mesothelioma. We are the children of those fathers who worked with asbestos all around them. Daddy’s girls who hugged their fathers in welcome and wore their jackets to do the chores for which our jackets were just too precious. We played with our fathers when they came home from days of working with asbestos.

The longer I am part of the community of mesothelioma patients and loved ones, the more I see these young patients. They are starting new stages in their lives in their early 20’s and 30’s. They are at the age where careers, marriages and children take precedence and they have to take a back seat and lose time because they have to concentrate on beating the disease. Thankfully, advances in treatment are making it more likely that these young people will be able to get back to their lives. More patients of all ages are surviving.

Of course hearing that you have cancer is devastating, but I have hope, and a lot of us do. We come together to support each other — a community of mesothelioma sufferers who share victories and tragedies with each other.

I share my story because I want to bring about awareness of mesothelioma. If I can help someone who has recently been diagnosed or give someone who is losing hope a reason to stop living in fear, I am doing the right thing.

Heather Von St. James

Compound Dilemna

For years during archery season I have hunted with a crossbow; now I have finally made the decision to “cross” over to a compound. (Hehehe) For years I have drooled over Matthew’s Jewel but since female bows are so $$$ decided not to jump into any decision.

This past weekend while doing some Christmas shopping I had the chance to handle the Hoyt Vicxen and was pleasantly surprised by it! It was lightweight, good looking and the model just happened to be my draw length. I’ve looked over some forums and heard a few negative things about the Vicxen’s draw cycle, anyone know anything about that?

What about other female bows? Any of y’all hunt and have recommendations for me?


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Turkey Cookies

As far back as I remember my mother made these cookies with us and I could not WAIT until Hila Fay was old enough to pass the tradition on to her.  Finally, I could wait no longer!  So, for the first time we attempted to make “Turkey Cookies”.  Sadly my sister-in-law had to work so it was just Gramma, my nephew Matt (affectionately known as Pac-man to me), Hila Fay and myself but we had fun and the results were pretty good.  The cookies are pretty easy to make and a fun tradition for all involved!


Chocolate covered cherries or cream drops

Chocolate covered graham crackers

Fudge Striped Cookies

Chocolate Icing

Candy Corn

The Chocolate Covered Graham Cracker serves as the Turkey’s “base”, the cherry or cream drop as the body, the Fudge Striped Cookie as the tail, the candy corn as the beak and the icing (we’ve found generic icing actually works better) as glue to hold it all together!  I’ll show you some pictures:

Note a couple of things; the “flat” part of the chocolate covered cherry is pointing towards the back, not down. It’s much easier for the Fudge Striped Cookie to stick to it in that position.  Also, we put icing in three places: between the graham cracker & the “drop” (chocolate covered cherry), the striped cookie and “drop” and the beak (not pictured) and “drop”

Hila Fay and her very first Turkey Cookie

5 Minute Hershey Bar Pie

This is a variation of my Aunt Jo’s recipe, but since I am a choc-o-holic I have up the chocolate by about 110%.  I posted the picture on facebook and had quite a few requests for the recipe.  It is sooooo easy! So here goes:


1 Cool Whip Tub


3 Hershey Bars


1 Chocolate Graham Cracker Pie Crust


Melt 2 Hershey Bars (about 30-45 seconds) and mix with the cool whip.  Pour in the pie crust.  Decorate with the 3rd chocolate bar. Done.



Take the time to dance

Yesterday my great-nephew had his 3rd birthday party (Happy Birthday Lincoln!).  After his party Chuck had to pick up a part for his shower so we made a quick trip to Lowe’s.  Hila Fay and I decided to entertain ourselves by looking at all the Christmas decorations while daddy looked for the part he needed.

In front of the Christmas trees was a six-foot, moving and singing Santa Claus.  Hila didn’t know whether to be scared or thrilled at the sight of him.  After a few minutes of staring the music began to win her over and as Santa began to belt out “Jingle Bells” Hila Fay giggled in delight, threw up her hands and said, “Let’s dance, Mommy!” Now, really…what choice did I have? So there, right inside the entrance of Lowe’s Hila Fay and I twirled to her little heart’s content. We laughed and giggled and sang along with Santa Claus.

When we finally stopped to catch our breath, both of us laughing and smiling oblivious to the world around us (thus far) I noticed that the passersby were all watching Hila Fay with such joy on their face.  She had already taken back to dancing, solo this time, and was bringing smiles to everybody in the vicinity with her uninhibited pleasure of the simplest thing-Christmas music.

I don’t remember the last time I just “let go”, that I allowed myself to have innocent fun without thinking about “what others would think”.  We created such precious memories, and her joy brought smiles to countless strangers around her.  Yesterday was a good day!