“I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2016 when I was 22 years old; now I’m 24. It’s been a hard, rough road and it has changed my life for the worst and for the better. I never thought in a million years I would be here dealing with all of this, but I know I will overcome it and everything will be okay.

“It’s so crazy how all of this started. I was at work and I kept feeling out of breath, dizzy and lightheaded, and I could barely move. I was told by one doctor that it was just asthma, so they gave me an inhaler for it, which didn’t work. My symptoms got even worse, to the point I had to quit my job. I went to see a cardiologist who did an echo, an EKG and a six-minute walk test, which got everyone scared – even myself and I didn’t even know what was going on. My oxygen levels went from 94 to 40 within seconds of going up and down the stairs. They sent me to the hospital where they did a lot more tests. During that week I found out that both my heart and lungs are bad and I needed a double lung transplant and a new heart.

“I was so shocked that this was happening to me. I will never forget that day. I didn’t know what to do. I’m so thankful for the family I had around me to help me. There are so many things I had to relearn about myself. I can’t run and I can’t go up big hills real fast. I have to take my time. I can’t go on airplanes and roller coasters. I can’t go up a flight of stairs or my heart and lungs will start acting up. Then I start having a panic attack and shortness of breath that makes me feel like I’m dying. It’s getting a little better, but I do have days where my medicine makes me feel weak and sick and just very depressed.

“My advice is that you must not let your illness take you over. There are times when I don’t think I will make it, but then I just close my eyes and pray, and I know I will be okay. We all have good and bad days, but you must keep pushing past it. Your life will change so much, and you need to take one day at a time—don’t overdo it and stress yourself out. Things will always get better —you just have to trust the process.

“I had one big scare last year when I was sick with the flu and pneumonia and I was in the hospital for a month.  I missed my birthday and a lot of other things. I was sick with infections, my kidneys almost gave out and my blood pressure was high; they had to give me three blood transfusions. I honestly thought that was the end. But the grace of God got me through it and I’m so blessed. My word of advice is to stay positive and be around people who bring out the good. You’re going to need all the positive vibes you can get. Just take one day at a time. And the one thing that helps me is writing down my thoughts and clearing it out of my head. Maybe that will help you. We all need to stick together and stay positive, so a cure can be found. God bless everyone.”