Angela’s Story: Heartbeats of Resilience

Organ Recipient Angela at an event

In 2013, I received a life-altering diagnosis of heart disease, specifically cardiomyopathy, and sought treatment from a local cardiologist. Juggling marriage, three school-aged kids, three jobs, hobbies, and time with family and friends, this period marked a significant shift in my life. As my kids would say, I was “doing the most.”

Following my diagnosis, I adhered to my cardiologist’s advice and enrolled in a local cardiac rehab program to enhance my understanding of heart disease. The impact of cardiac rehab was transformative. Despite the challenges, I prioritized attending every session, graduated successfully, and moved forward with my life. However, in 2015, my health took a downturn, leading to hospitalizations and a continued decline in heart health over the next two years.

My cardiologist then referred me to the specialized heart health team at Duke Medical Center Cardiac Department. Eventually, a pacemaker was recommended, and in September 2016, I underwent the first of several heart surgeries. Despite facing setbacks, I remained committed to my recovery, attending local cardiac rehab and graduating.

The pacemaker surgery went well, so I figured I’d give life a renewed effort. To my disappointment, the pacemaker didn’t do as well for my heart health as we hoped. Over the subsequent months, my health declined despite adhering to recommendations and medications. In April 2017, facing worsening symptoms, I underwent preparations for a heart transplant. By this point, I was dying, and all the emotions you can imagine ran through my mind, body, and soul. My recovery this time around was tougher than when I received the pacemaker. I physically had to start over — walking, sitting up and down, eating, etc.

Who would have blamed me if I “cracked” under pressure? I was very close to doing so. A new reality had set in, and I struggled to adapt. Yet, with the support of my family, faith, forgiveness, and reliable healthcare, I summoned the strength to endure. Today, not only am I able to live, but I can also share my heart story. Fully recovered, I am dedicated to living my best life — battle scars and all. I am grateful, thankful, and blessed to tell my story of resilience and triumph.

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