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Open Letter From Tina St. John

Dear Reader,

My name is Tina St. John. I happen to be a medical doctor, but my reasons for writing With Every Breath: A Lung Cancer Guidebook have almost nothing to do with my chosen profession. I would like to take a moment of your time to explain.

There are times in life when one questions whether there is any order or justice in the world. For me, this happened when my 42-year-old, healthy, strong-as-an-ox, vibrant husband was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. We were happily married and had just celebrated our daughter Hope’s second birthday. Everything seemed “right” with the world, except for one seemingly minor problem - my husband had a cough that wouldn’t go away. After several weeks, I suggested a chest x-ray. I remember distinctly that I was setting the table for dinner when he came home on the last day B.C. (before cancer). I set down a plate and glanced up while greeting him, completely unprepared for what was about to happen. When I looked up, I saw something in his eyes I had never seen before. And in that instant, I knew our lives had changed forever.

The next 15 months were filled with many challenges. There were many tears, but also much laughter. There was sadness, but also great joy. There was pain, but also abundant happiness. There were treatments and procedures and appointments. There were birthday parties, and anniversary cakes, and Christmas presents. In the end, my husband and my daughter’s Daddy died - but not before having lived many happy, joyful days between his diagnosis and his death.

For a time after my late husband’s death, it seemed all order had disappeared from the lives of my daughter and me. That was six years ago, and much has happened since those days. We have found our way back to celebrating life - but now, we do so with a deeper sense of gratitude for each day. The joy my family shared during the last 15 months of my late husband’s life provided us with many delightful memories that live in our hearts and continue to bring my daughter and me much happiness.

One of the most difficult and yet changeable circumstances of dealing with lung cancer is a lack of knowledge. It can be very intimidating to be faced with potentially life-changing decisions while feeling you do not have the information you need to choose wisely. Filling that gap by providing you with medical and practical information is what this book is all about. In writing this book and deciding what to include, I have relied not only on my professional background, but also on my personal experiences, my husband’s experiences, and the experiences of many friends I have met over the years who have also faced the challenges of lung cancer.

I am genuinely honored to have an opportunity to try to do something useful for the lung cancer community. Writing this book allowed me to turn the experiences of my family and other families that have been affected by lung cancer into something that will hopefully benefit others. Writing this book has been a labor of love. It is my sincere hope that the information provided in these pages will bring you not only factual knowledge, but also some peace of mind. If you find just one thing in this book that contributes to your well-being, the goal of writing this book will have been accomplished.

Some of the most profound words I have ever read were first uttered by Mother Teresa who said:

We can do no great things. We can do only small things with great love.

If you or one of your loved ones is currently living with lung cancer, you are probably facing some of the most challenging times of your life. With Every Breath: A Lung Cancer Guidebook is but a very small thing in the midst of such heart-wrenching turmoil, I know. But it is offered nonetheless with much love – from me, my daughter, and all of the many people who contributed to making this book a reality.

Tina St. John


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