Janet St. James, the former medical reporter for WFAA/Channel 8, was one of the more familiar faces at the station, having worked their nearly 19 years before she announced her departure on Facebook in March 2015.
Just over a month later, she had another announcement on Facebook: “I am fierce and strong. But I have breast cancer.”
Through the years, St. James has kept her friends and followers updated on her prognosis and treatment through more than a half-dozen surgeries. The one she posted last week was the hardest to watch.
“In April of 2015 I shared what I thought would be the hardest story of my life,” St. James begins. “It was my own story, and my diagnosis of breast cancer.
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“I was wrong,” she continues. “This story is tougher.” The video is also on YouTube, where St. James has a page with updates about her health.
Here’s the latest video; a description and some background is below, but if you have four minutes, the showing is more powerful than the telling.
St. James goes on to say that she had been quiet during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, because she was profoundly affected by the stories of others with breast cancer — so affected that she was having anxiety before a six-month oncology checkup. at the end of the month. She had been suffering new pains and insisted on additional tests.
Her oncologist ordered a bone scan, which she had to fight with her health-insurance provider to get. “He expected it to be clear,” she says. “It was not. That bone scan showed at least three spots on my spine and one on my rib.”
She had a follow-up PET scan. “PET scans will light up cancer throughout the body,”: she said. “My PET scan lit up far more than those four initial spots.”
St. James says that she is anxiously awaiting results of a bone biopsy that will “pinpoint and confirm the genetic makeup of my cancer..”
“I know what you’re thinking,” St. James says. “You’re thinking, ‘You can beat this!’ Well, despite ... my otherwise good health, I’m sad to say that metastatic breast cancer is not curable. There is some treatment, and I’m hoping that my cancer is going to be the sort of cancer that responds to that treatment.”
She says that she intends to get as many additional opinions as she can to ensure that whatever treatment she gets gives her the most time she can have with her family. “With the advances in medicine, I mean, who knows?,” she adds. “I hope to be around for some time.”
St. James looks shaken throughout much of the video, but it is here that she has to take a deep breath and struggle not to get too emotional.
“It is for my children that I am posting this now, because they so desperately need to confide in their friends that this is happening,” she says, her voice starting to break. “And me, putting this out there will give them that freedom to unburden themselves. The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to tell them this news.”
She lists procedures she’s had: a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, removal of lymph nodes, radiation, daily hormone-blocking pills. “And somehow, some hearty breast-cancer cells survived in my body to spread,” she says
“Breast cancer does not discriminate,” she adds. “Not by age, not by race, not by socioeconomic status, not if you’re a mother, not if you’re a daughter, a grandmother or somebody’s very best friend. And sometimes bad things happen to good people.”
St. James says that she will always be an open book: “I believe that knowledge is power,” she says. “So I will continue to share whatever I can to empower others. And share information about living and dying pink, with emphasis on the living.”
In 2015, St. James told the Star-Telegram that her goal has always been to help people. “At the end of my career at Channel 8, I really didn’t do any stories unless I thought there was a redeeming value to them, because I could and that’s the right thing to do. I always want to educate people, no matter what.”
So she did her initial post about her breast cancer for that reason, and also because she wanted to be the one posting about her cancer and not for word of it to get out on social media ahead of her.
St. James’ Facebook bio lists her as assistant vice president of strategic communications for Medical City Healthcare, part of Hospital Corporation of America. She received her breast-cancer diagnosis a week before taking the new position.