- I was born with a heart murmur, but it wasn't until I was 19 years old when I found out that it had disguised itself as a congenital heart defect. I was on the University of Kentucky dance team. We were practicing and I started having chest pains and shortness of breath.
We were off that summer, so I thought maybe I was just out of shape, but the pain just got worse and worse and I just knew something was different. I called my parents after practice and, you know crying, and they told me to go to the emergency room. They were like well it could be your heart, because of our family history. But I, you know I'm healthy, I'm young. There's no way it could be my heart, no way.
The next morning the pain was still there and they told me that if I didn't go they would come pick me up and make sure I went to the emergency room. Went and saw a cardiologist and he told me I had been living with a rare congenital heart defect called Ebstein's anomaly and that it was just a matter of time before I would have become a statistic. So the good news is that it can be fixed, but the bad news is that there is no medicine to fix your condition.
You need to have open heart surgery and that's when I just lost it. I was 19 years old at the time. My world was turned upside down. Our dance routines are very intense and to go to just trying to pick up a one pound weight, I felt like I had lost everything.
I am here at cardiac rehab with people who are 70 years old and it was hard. As athletes, we are taught to push through the pain. That day when I was having chest pains, I told myself to keep pushing, keep pushing. It's very important for young people to listen to their bodies and although you may think that it's not possible for it to happen to you, it can. It happened to me. I'm thankful that I listened to my body and I got it checked out and I'm here today to speak about it. (slow piano music).
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