Why I’m Working to Raise Awareness of HF-James Young
Upon being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I had no idea heart disease was the leading cause of death among adults in the United States of America. As well, neither did I realize that because of my diagnosis that my life's purpose would re-directed.
Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Suffering from congestive heart failure unexpectedly, in many ways, re-chartered the path of my life, not only health-wise, but also my path of purpose and passion.
The day my primary physician sent the wonderful news that my diagnosis improved, she then sat me down and explained that now I've become responsible. Naturally, I initially understood her suggestion in saying that I now have become responsible for myself, however, my understanding was incorrect. She encouraged me to use this second wind in life to become an example for others who are suffering from heart failure. As she impressed: they need to see you!
As I educated myself further on heart failure, I found that a significant number of patients, after being diagnosed with any form of heart disease, tend to undergo varying levels of depression, as I did. Depression can literally break your heart.
As I chronicled my recovery on social media, many friends would link me to family and friends who were diagnosed with some form of heart failure. I found myself becoming their emotional support, motivator, and encourage. I learned something. Being that attentive ear, in most cases, made the difference in how they saw themselves, especially talking to someone who truly understands what they're going through.
My father passed May 2014 due to congestive heart failure and diabetes complications. Post his death, I became more convicted in wanting to bring more awareness of heart disease to more people.
I now have the wonderful opportunity to engage and inspire more people such as heart patients, heart failure survivors, and caregivers by being a contributing Heart Failure Ambassador on the American Heart Association's Support Network website.
Through my public engagements, especially at health fairs and speaking events, I speak with many heart patients. What a difference it makes, when a current heart patient approaches my AHA table, seemingly down, and I stand and introduce myself as a congestive heart failure survivor, I tend to see a light turn on in the person. They open up to me. They realize that I'm not just a “representative” for AHA, but we also share a connection.
Heart patients need to know there's hope, possibility, and light at the end of their current experience.
Lastly, to be a heart failure survivor is a great accomplishment, however, to ignite that survivor spirit in another person furthers the mission of the American Heart Association which is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. And that is why I'm working to bring more awareness to heart disease, especially heart failure.
Supporting the AHA at a local event.
AHA Immediate Past Chair Al Royce, James Young and AHA Immediate Past President Steve Houser, MD an AHA conference. James speaks at local and national events to support the AHA Heart Failure initiative.