It was the week of my birthday 8 years ago when I got the phone call.
My dad experienced a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital with nothing but numbness and pain that saturated his left arm. Over the years, plaque buildup had narrowed his coronary arteries to percentages of 97% and 98%. Usually, patients with such severe conditions don't make it and rarely can they physically endure the excruitiating chest discomfort that comes with every cough like my dad did. I remember overhearing the nurses praise God with an overwhelming amount of joy for this miracle that would one day remain a deep memory within their hearts. Two days later, my dad was brought up to Los Angeles for a double bypass heart surgery to be done by one of the brightest cardiac surgeons. This moment forever changed his life, and it also forever changed mine.
With news of a successful surgery, my dad was brought home where his inspiring road to recovery would begin. I was only 12 at the time, but I took responsibility for preparing healthy meals, helping my dad with respiratory exercises, and whispering encouraging words I knew he wanted to hear. Life with cardiovascular disease changes both the survivor's and their family's life. The situation truly wasn't fun, but it was where I acquired the need to promote change in my community with the tools I had. With my first-hand experiences of nearly losing a family member to the #1 leading cause of death in America, preventing others from undergoing the same became my intrinisic motivation ever since 2015. The food we indulge in, the amount of regular exercise we choose to commit to, the lifestyles we have, the amount of stress we bear, the amount of sleep we get, etc. are normal aspects of everyday living that play a major role in our wellbeing. While it seems hard to live a balanced lifestyle, it surely isn't impossible. Together, we can make small decisions each day to see big differences within our own home and across the globe.
Everyone has a unique story to tell, but if that story is cut short, the person's impact might never reach the ears that are eager to listen, the eyes that are longing to see clearly, and the hearts that are ready to receive. The potential of second chances can always be possible for those suffering with cardiovascular disease, and it starts within the generous hearts of people like you and me.
The heart is more than just an organ; it's a source of cheer, warmth, and connectivity that makes life worth living. Donate today!