PINEHURST – Almost 20 years after breast cancer took the life of her 45-year-old mother, Heather St. Aubin-Stout got a breast cancer diagnosis of her own.
Heather St. Aubin-Stout
A year later, she got another.
“I was scared,” she says. “But I told family and friends, asked for help and asked for prayers. It was a more psychological and emotional journey than I thought it would be, I guess, because of the experience with my mom. My goal was to get past my one-year mark (when my mom's had metastasized). Well, that's when mine recurred.”
St. Aubin-Stout could have allowed breast cancer to take over her life. Instead, she decided to live the best life possible, which meant sharing her story with others.
Her book, “Not My Mother's Journey,” was released in January 2011 and within six months had been awarded a Reader's Favorite five-star review and The Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval. On Thursday, Oct. 24, she will talk about her experience during the annual breast cancer awareness event hosted by The Foundation of FirstHealth and the Cancer CARE Fund.
The program will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Clara McLean House at FirstHealth, 20 FirstVillage Drive, Pinehurst. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Part of St. Aubin-Stout's program will focus on the need for personal support.
“I was so moved by the people who helped me through those years of diagnosis and treatments, and I felt like I was able to recover because of my network support,” she says. “I wanted to do the same thing for others. A bucket list item of mine had always been to write a book, so this seemed like a good jumping-off point.”
According to Laura Kuzma, coordinator of FirstHealth's CARE-Net program, St. Aubin-Stout brings a fresh perspective to what it means to be both cancer caregiver and patient.
“Through her journey, we learn of medical advancements, important support systems and effective coping mechanisms,” Kuzma says. “By sponsoring this annual event, the Cancer CARE Fund and The Foundation of FirstHealth hope to bring valuable information to patients, families and interested community members throughout the area.”
After her initial book tour throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Michigan, St. Aubin-Stout took another step in her journey by partnering with non-profit breast cancer groups and helping raise money for them.
Now, she also speaks to hospital support groups and at American Cancer Society events, talking about her experiences as her mother's caregiver as well as her own cancer journey and encouraging women to open themselves up by sharing and developing a personal support network.
She also advocates for early detection, awareness, breast self-exams and, when the timing is appropriate, yearly mammograms.
“I am excited that we are offering this wonderful event to our community,” says Margie Thomas, clinical director of Radiation Oncology at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. “Heather combines humor with tips on how to maneuver through the twists and turns a cancer diagnosis can bring. This promises to be both an inspirational and an educational evening.”
There is no charge to attend the Heather St. Aubin-Stout event, but registration is necessary and can be made by calling (800) 213-3284. For more information on St. Aubin-Stout, visit her website at www.sharingmystory.com.