“The road between then and now has been a long one. I have learned so much about life and who I want to be.”

By Kimbery Toland

“I was diagnosed with severe pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in 2016. After trying a few pill treatments, my doctors put me on a pump medicine called Veletri (along with Opsumit and Adempas). After crying lots of tears, I realized I had two options. I could let this diagnosis define who I am or I could fight for the life I want to have. I chose to fight. Has it been easy? NO! It has, however, been totally worth it. I am thriving in my life more than I ever have. People, including doctors, often say to me, ‘You don’t look sick.’ Well, no, I don’t because I don’t allow myself to look sick.

“Going back to before I was diagnosed, around 2011, that’s when I started having my first symptoms. My legs would occasionally swell, but I chalked it up to standing too much. Well, it progressively got worse over the years, and I realized it’s not going away. I was literally on my couch 24/7 because of the swelling and shortness of breath. I couldn’t even walk five steps without feeling like I was going to pass out. My kids took care of themselves; it was a sad situation. I also gained a LOT of weight during this time, which made me feel even worse. In February 2016 I decided I better go to the doctor or my kids were going to find me dead. Thank God I went.

“The road between then and now has been a long one. I have learned so much about life and who I want to be. I’m so much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I believe everything happens for a reason. God knew I could handle this situation. I believe I’m meant to help others going through the same thing.

“I truly WANT to help others who have PAH. I know I’m not a nurse, but I wish there was a job where I could travel around talking one-on-one to newly diagnosed patients. I think my real-life experience could greatly benefit them. They could see for themselves that life isn’t over because they have PAH.”