This past weekend I had the joy of returning to my home state of Indiana and visiting DePauw University, my alma matter. Attending college there is one of the treasured pieces of my past and while on campuse, the nostalgia was intense. A few fellow sorority sisters came to hear me talk, as I was the guest speaker for the sorority's philanthropy which raises funds for the American Heart Association. Ironically enough, the last time I was suppose to be back at DePauw was to celebrate the graduation of my youngest sister in law. I never made it to her graduation that day in May. Instead, I was rushed to the hospital with a cardiac tamponade and listed for my transplant. It was about four weeks after my heart valve surgery. I woke up feeling flu like and not well and just told Dave, "I can't go to Greencastle today. I feel awful." But I wanted nothing more than for Dave go. To be normal and get away for one day...to celebrate with his sister this life milestone for her. He went and my mom came to be by my side from that day until the day Chloe saved me. Now over two years later, her gift alowed me returned to that treasured place in a tiny town called Greencastle, Indiana.
The sorority girls played vidoes of photos of them at various college events and we laughed, remembering how we did the exact same things. Dance parties in our dining hall, sorority recruitment and cheers and chants. It was all so fresh in my mind that day. Chloe and her legacy were strong. Her gift brought me back. It's hard to get the words out when talking to her and talking about my wonderful in-laws who also attended. I did it though...part of my talk is below:
Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of roughly 450,000 women per year, compared to 260,000 lives taken from all forms of cancer combined.
A study conducted by the AHA claims that only 13% of women in the US perceive heart disease as a major threat to their health. I hope my story and other awareness efforts by the AHA change this perception.
If you never knew it, you wouldn’t believe my medical past. I could do anything anyone else could do and had only very few restrictions place on me. I was told to just live life and that this is how it was going to be for me.
Later, I was prepped for surgery to repair a leaky valve in my heart, with the hope that repairing the valve would improve my hearts function. It had dropped from functioning at 30% to a low 15%. Then, I heard the words that there was 30% chance that if the surgery didn’t work, I would need a transplant.
Naturally, every time I give a talk, people ask about Chloe. So I will enlighten you a little bit by reading some of the comments her friends posted to a fan page on Facebook:
"she had a beautiful voice for anyone who's gone to a chorus concert....it was lovely"
"chloe definitely stood out from everyone else. i loved her spontaneity and liveliness. and ill miss her running around our house with my sister at 3 am."
"chloe im so proud of you. we all miss you at high school and in my opinion its not it would be so much better with you."
"she literally spread happiness around :)"
"i went and visited you a few weeks ago. i gave you a flower along with the other billions of adorned flowers already there. i really miss you and i love you. really."
Thank you Chloe for all of these things and for letting me return to my past.