By Ranolene Pillay
Ranolene Rhissa Pillay, 24, lives in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, with her dad, brothers, sister and their lab Reigns. She has been working to increase awareness of pulmonary hypertension (PH) and Phighting fiercely since her mom, Rhodena, was diagnosed with PH. Here is her story:
My beautiful mom, Rhodena, was diagnosed with PH in 2013 or 2014. At that time, PH sounded like a made-up word in South Africa. The doctor who diagnosed her had no previous experience or knowledge in that field. He told mom, “This is the disease, there’s no treatment; you have to live with it.” He put her on “house arrest.” She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere because the risk of contracting a flu could worsen her heart and lungs.
After numerous visits to the intensive care unit (ICU), we decided to get a second opinion. We found a pulmonologist and cardiologist who had experience with PH patients. With the right tests and procedures, the doctors were able to put my mom on 20 milligrams of Revatio three times a day. The medication improved her quality of life for a while.
She made wonderful memories for our family. She was able to go out, do things and have fun — things the previous doctor restricted her from doing. PH restricted strenuous activities, but she never let that restrict her from living life. She lived to the fullest until she earned her wings Aug. 9, 2018, a day after her 41st birthday.
My mom taught me many things, but one thing in particular I want to share with all the PHighters: PH is just a word when you face it with determination, a fighting spirit and God on your side. Just keep breathing. Sometimes the road may get tough, but darling, you are tougher! And always, always get a second opinion.