Janet St. James: The Interviewer Becomes the Interviewee

North Texas Giving Day is a one-day event to raise donations and awareness
for North Texas non-profits. We are honored to bring you another powerful story of a North Texas woman who’s inspiring us through her breast cancer journey,
Janet St. James.  

For Janet, receiving a stage-two breast cancer diagnosis on April Fool’s Day was a bit ironic. As many North Texans know, Janet spent over 18 years as a local medical and health news reporter for WFAA, so she was no stranger to the subject of cancer. However, she is now experiencing it firsthand and remains a strong and confident female figure in the Dallas-Ft. Worth community. With her infectious “go-getter” attitude, many can relate to her battle with breast cancer. Janet stated during our interview, “I never thought, ‘Why me?’ I knew that anyone, even children, can get cancer. I had done everything I could to prevent it. And still, I got cancer.” We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Janet St. James (JSJ) as she reveals how she moved beyond the shock of her diagnosis, which came at a particularly challenging time.

Janet St. James showing her strength as a breast cancer survivor

NBCF: Introduce yourself!

JSJ: My name is Janet St. James. I am a proud mother of three and currently Asst. VP of Strategic Communications at HCA North Texas, a large hospital system that includes 12 hospitals and dozens of other clinics.

NBCF: Tell us about your breast cancer experience. Did early detection play a role in detecting your breast cancer?

JSJ: I was told that I have breast cancer on April 1, 2015, just days before I was to start my new job at HCA. I have had annual mammograms for many years due to dense and lumpy breasts. Most recently, I had been monitored every six months as doctors watched a spot in my right breast. I had been given a clean bill of health just a few months earlier.

NBCF: What were your first thoughts when you received your diagnosis?

JSJ: My first thought was that I could not believe the timing. I was due to start a new job on Monday. Would I have a job?  Would I be able to get medical care? My own personal health was not my top concern, interestingly. Some say that time slows down for many people when they hear the word “cancer”. For me, life sped up!

NBCF: What would you tell a friend or family member about early detection?

JSJ: Early detection is the best hope for long-term survival. Had I not gone for my annual well-woman exam, my cancer might have been missed for months, perhaps even another year.

NBCF: If you could share one piece of wisdom with a large group of people, what would it be?

JSJ: Don’t wallow in self-pity or fear. Obsessing about the negative or unknown only makes the ordeal harder, for yourself and for your family. Arm yourself with education and information. Information holds the power to help make lifesaving decisions and calm the worry of the unknown.

Janet St. James, breast cancer survivor

NBCF: What are some ways your support system encouraged or helped you during your treatment?

JSJ: My family and friends have been there to provide meals for my family, pick up kids, send me cheerful care packages and flowers, and offer general encouragement. I don’t generally think of myself as someone who needs much help. I have to say, help provided without asking or expecting anything in return is a gift I can never repay. The support of friends and family has allowed me to build strength, instead of expend it.

NBCF: Describe your perfect day off?

JSJ: My perfect day, at least during treatment, involves drifting in the pool, listening to the sounds of nature in my backyard, and enjoying a great meal with my family. My favorite way to spend the weekend is with my kids and husband.  Whatever we do together is good!

NBCF: What activities or groups in North Texas are you involved in and/or passionate about?

JSJ: With cancer treatment, a new career, and three busy children in multiple activities, I’m involved in about all I can handle! I enjoy the benefits of exercise. Every day, whether I have the energy or not, I exercise. I love to cook. And, I am passionate about supporting my children in whatever activities they enjoy.

We are grateful that Janet shared her story with us. She exemplifies the hope that so many women must cling to as they cope with having breast cancer in the midst of balancing family and career. We invite you to help us give hope to other women on North Texas Giving Day by making a donation to NBCF. Remember, this is a one-day giving event! Any amount you give truly helps.

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