Heather Arena, Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) Support Group of Michiana leader in St. Joseph, Mich., shares her passion and joy for being a support group leader and how it helps her connect with the pulmonary hypertension (PH) community.

“I wanted to become a support group leader when I became involved with our patients who have pulmonary hypertension last year. In a previous job, I traveled in nine states, was gone all week and unable to give back to my local community,” says Heather. “When I became involved with our PH patients last year—I now work in a local pulmonology office with our PH specialist and a fellow respiratory therapist—I realized that starting a support group would align my intense interest in PH, including our patients who live with it, and my desire to give back to our community. “

Heather says the group has had two meetings thus far. She has most enjoyed “the planning, answering questions about an upcoming meeting and having those interesting and intimate conversations during the meeting. I absolutely love educating others and being educated.”

In their most recent meeting, the group heard a presentation from the local area agency on aging. They discussed considerations to make when choosing insurance benefits for 2020 as it relates to PH medications and more. “It is so satisfying to collaborate with other agencies to better serve our patients and their families and caregivers,” says Heather.

Because the group is growing, there will be a lot of future opportunities to hold more events and have more collaboration. “We have started a Facebook page for group announcements. We also have discussed upcoming events such as the PH Summit in Cleveland, Ohio, [in November 2019 and] the PHA Conference in 2020, and we will encourage attendees to join events near us as they’re able,” says Heather.