Heather St. Aubin-Stout speaks on her experiences overcoming breast cancer

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 21, 2013

Heather St. Aubin-Stout is a wife, mother, friend, architect, restaurant hostess, event planner and author. And although it’s not her favorite thing in the world, she’s also a public speaker.

In 2010, St. Aubin-Stout published a memoir about her fight with breast cancer, and the next year completed some two dozen speaking engagements and signings. Her last speaking engagement was more than a year ago at the Southern Women’s Show.

“There are no guarantees,” says St. Aubin-Stout, 50, whose breast cancer came back the year after her initial diagnosis. In remission since 2008, she says, “I’m doing something that I want. It’s something different.”

That “something different” is serving as hostess, front house manager and marketing/events coordinator at Emma’s, a new restaurant on South Lee Street that opened this summer.

But she’s still happy to speak about her experiences when asked, and on Thursday, she’ll be the featured speaker at the annual breast cancer awareness event in Pinehurst.

“This is a big step for me,” she says. “I’m being paid to speak, and they’ve ordered some of my books.”

After receiving her degree and working part-time with husband Gray, 53, also an architect, St. Aubin-Stout decided to stay home and raise their three sons, now 18, 21 and 23.

“I decided to write about my experience to help others through it,” she says. “My experience in 2006 to 2008 was vastly different than my mom’s.”

Linda Marie Baerwalde St. Aubin died in 1987 at age 45 from the disease.

Even though there’s not yet a cure, St. Aubin-Stout says she feels that the research is moving in the right direction.

And even though she doesn’t like to call herself a public speaker — “It’s mortifying to me!” — she feels like she’s touched at least one person at every event she’s appeared. She says she loved writing her book and loves talking with people one-on-one — so her job at Emma’s must be a dream come true for the outgoing St. Aubin-Stout.

In front of one person or a whole room full of women, St. Aubin-Stout has her talking points: get your mammograms; early detection is vital; be your own best advocate; don’t be afraid to ask questions; you’re not alone; a good attitude makes a big difference; share your experiences with one another; there is hope.

Not only does she have hope, St. Aubin-Stout has faith. She says that her faith community sustained her on those days she couldn’t even get off the couch.

An hour-long presentation may seem like an eternity if you don’t like to speak, but St. Aubin-Stout will weave in her own experiences with her mother’s, read excerpts from her book, and answer questions.

“And humor is a big thing,” she adds. “I have learned to joke more. I’m a real Type A person, but I am trying.”

She’s continuing to write. At present she’s working on a mystery about a woman whose husband disappears.

More often than not, though, you’ll find her most days at the hostess stand at Emma’s. Already, she’s in the process of booking Christmas parties.

“I’m really enjoying it,” she says. “It’s just fun. It’s all about doing what you want to do.”

For more information about Heather St. Aubin-Stout, visit her Web site at http://www.sharingmystory.com/.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.